State Lands Commission votes to support federal ban on oil drilling in the Pacific Ocean

Dec 6, 2016 | Oil and Gas, Press Release

(Sacramento)—The California State Lands Commission adopted a resolution today supporting the Obama Administration’s ban on new offshore drilling off the Pacific coast, signaling that it will take an active role in protecting California’s coastline.

“We are committed to protecting the Golden State’s coast, and we will aggressively oppose efforts to open up federal waters to new oil drilling,” said State Controller Betty Yee, who chairs the Commission. “The Commission has a solid track record of environmental stewardship, and today’s resolution demonstrates our continued vigilance.”

The Commission resolution unequivocally expresses strong support for closing the Outer Continental Shelf of the Pacific Ocean to new oil development and for transitioning to clean, innovative renewable energy production. The Commission previously fought against oil drilling in federal waters off the coast of California because of the enormously damaging consequences to the environment and economy. The prospect of a new direction at the federal level—opening offshore areas for drilling—has intensified the Commission’s push to prevent new oil drilling off the California coast.

“California’s economy cannot stride forward confidently into the future by turning backwards. Our state has demonstrated economic growth through environmental stewardship, not despite it,” said Lieutenant Governor and Commissioner Gavin Newsom. “Be assured that we will stand up, step in, and protect California’s natural resources and robustly oppose damaging oil development in federal waters near our coastline.”

The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management oversees oil and gas development in federal waters, known as the Outer Continental Shelf area (OCS). The Bureau’s five-year program for oil and gas development establishes a schedule of oil and gas lease sales proposed for planning areas of the U.S. OCS. The program specifies the size, timing, and location of potential leasing activity that the Secretary of the Interior determines will best meet national energy needs.

On November 18, 2016, the Secretary of the Interior and the Bureau released the final plan to guide future energy development for the OCS for 2017-2022. Areas off the Pacific coast are not included in the 2017-2022 program. The exclusion of the Pacific coast areas is consistent with the long-standing position of the Pacific coast states in opposition to oil and gas development off their coasts.

The resolution will be sent to state and federal elected officials. It is available here.