California Proposes Bill to Block Any New Offshore Drilling

SACRAMENTO (April 28, 2017) — State legislators are wasting no time in responding to President Trump’s recent executive order to open that opens the door to offshore drilling in federal waters off California’s coast through a review of its National Marine Sanctuaries and Monuments. Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) and Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) today announced proposed legislation – amendments to Senate Bill 188 – that would prohibit the State Lands Commission from approving any new leases in state waters for the building of new pipelines or other infrastructure needed for new or expanded oil and gas development, such as piers and wharves. 

Following is a statement from Ann Notthoff, the Natural Resources Defense Council’s director California advocacy:
“Californians treasure their coast and we want our waters protected. No one here has forgotten how the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill absolutely devastated our communities, wildlife and economies. And we will not hand over one of our most valuable assets just for Big Oil to destroy. Instead, our state is focused on moving away from dirty fossil fuels and producing more good jobs in clean energy every day. California politicians on both sides of the aisle understand that our vibrant coastal economy and irreplaceable marine resources are just too valuable to risk.” #PreseveCA

Key facts

  • There has been no new or expanded leasing to oil companies in state waters since 1969, after the infamous Santa Barbara oil spill. In federal waters off California, there have been no new leases since 1984.
  • Just as California led the nation with its landmark climate change legislation, the state and its citizens will unwaveringly reject new or expanded fossil fuel extraction off  its coast. The state’s transition to a thriving renewable energy economy is underway.
  • NRDC has worked with state and federal agencies to secure precedent-setting protections for California’s marine environment. The results have been impressive — the tourism and recreation sector of California’s $45 billion ocean economy comprises the largest of California’s six ocean-dependent sectors and plays an outsized role in employment, providing hundreds of thousands of jobs (380,000 jobs in 2012).
  • Governor Brown and California state agencies are steadfastly opposed to new oil and gas development.
    • In December 2016, Governor Brown requested that then President Obama permanently withdrawal California’s federal waters from new oil and gas drilling.
    • In December 2016, the State Lands Commission unanimously passed a resolution stating it “unequivocally supports the federal government’s current ban on new drilling in federal waters offshore California, opposes attempts to modify the ban, and directs Commission staff to take any appropriate actions, on behalf of the Commission, to ensure the ban remains in place.”
    • Yesterday both Governor Brown and Lieutenant Governor Newsom reaffirmed that California’s coast is closed to oil and gas exploration. Newsom said, “No new leases that enable expanded drilling off California’s coast will be issued and the pipelines bringing oil and gas onshore from platforms in federal waters are all under leases managed by, or under the oversight of, the State Lands Commission.”



The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.