Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, February 9, 2022

Contact:

Miyoko Sakashita, (510) 845-6703, miyoko@biologicaldiversity.org

California Senate Bill Would Eliminate Dirty, Dangerous Offshore Drilling

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— Legislation introduced today in the California Senate would phase out offshore drilling for oil and gas in the state’s coastal waters. The bill follows October’s big oil spill off Orange County and other recent oil industry spills and legal violations.

Senate Bill 953, introduced by Sen. Dave Min (D-Irvine), would require the State Lands Commission to terminate all remaining oil and gas leases under its jurisdiction in tidelands and state waters by Dec. 31, 2023.

“Sen. Min’s bill is a crucial response to the oil industry’s horrific record of spewing toxic pollution onto California’s beautiful, fragile coast,” said Miyoko Sakashita, Oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Decade after decade, offshore drilling has fouled our beaches, poisoned our ocean and killed our wildlife. It’s time to get this dirty, dangerous and utterly reckless industry out of our coastal waters.”

There are 11 actively producing offshore oil and gas leases in state waters. These operations include platforms Eva and Emmy near Huntington Beach and Platform Esther off Seal Beach. The bill would not affect oil leases in federal waters or the artificial islands in Long Beach Harbor.

The bill comes after an undersea pipeline connected to drilling platforms in federal waters off Orange County ruptured in October 2021, spewing tens of thousands of gallons of oil into the ocean. The spill fouled sensitive beaches and wetlands, forced fisheries closures, and harmed or killed dozens of fish, birds and marine mammals.

Since that spill, another offshore oil pipeline from Platform Eva to shore leaked oil off Huntington Beach. These incidents follow a long list of other oil industry spills and problems along the coast and across California, including the massive 2015 Refugio oil spill near Santa Barbara.

Companies drilling for oil and gas off the southern coast of California violated state regulations at least 381 times over a recent three-year period, according to state records obtained in 2018 by the Center. The violations range from major corrosion and other serious safety threats on offshore drilling platforms to a pattern of missing and failed well-integrity tests on four offshore drilling islands owned by the city of Long Beach.

Offshore oil production also contributes to the climate crisis. Seven offshore drilling platforms on the California coast have been shut down since the Refugio spill, which was caused by the failure of Plains All American Pipeline’s coastal oil pipeline. The Center calculated that, as of May 2020, the fifth anniversary of the spill, production from those platforms could have added 33.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution to the atmosphere. That’s the equivalent of burning almost 37 billion pounds of coal.

Those seven platforms continue to be shut down, and five additional platforms are temporarily shut down because of recent offshore pipeline ruptures off Orange County.

RSEllen_and_Elly_offshore_near_Long_Beach,_Calif_Bureau_of_Safety_and_Environmental_Enforcement_Public_Domain
Platforms Ellen and Elly offshore near Long Beach, Calif. Credit: Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Image is available for media use.

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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