Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, September 12, 2023


Brady Bradshaw, (412) 722-9280,

California Legislature Passes Bill Ending Exemption for Coastal Oil Development

Senate Bill 704 Still Needs Gov. Newsom’s Signature

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— The California legislature passed Senate Bill 704 today, and the legislation is awaiting Gov. Gavin Newsom’s approval. Approved by at least 80% of both the California Assembly and Senate, the bill amends the Coastal Act to remove an “industrial override” provision favoring approval for oil and gas developments along the coast, regardless of whether they meet resource protection policies.

If the bill goes into effect, new or expanded oil and gas developments including refineries and petrochemical facilities will be subject to the policies that aim to protect California’s ocean and coast.

“What a great relief that the California legislature has worked to close this outrageous decades-old loophole benefitting the oil industry,” said Brady Bradshaw, senior oceans campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This is a major step forward in protecting our coast from oil spills and the climate chaos caused by fossil fuel production. Gov. Newsom should sign this bill immediately.”

Proposed developments in California’s coastal zone typically need a coastal development permit that aims to protect the sensitive ecosystem. However, since the Coastal Act was enacted in 1976, oil and gas developments have been granted special status by the override provision and only need to meet minimal requirements to obtain a permit.

Offshore drilling on the Pacific coast causes air pollution and health harms to people in coastal communities and has led to numerous oil spills and leaks. The 2021 Amplify Energy pipeline spill near Huntington Beach released tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Pacific, killing birds, fish and other marine life, and closing beaches. In 2015, Plains All American Pipeline Company’s Line 901 ruptured at Refugio State Beach, releasing more than 100,000 gallons of crude oil.

Coastal oil and gas infrastructure also frequently leads to the use of public funds for covering clean-up costs of plugging, abandonment, and decommissioning, as in the recent case of Line 96 in Santa Barbara County.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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