Senator Dave Min Introduces Legislation to Ban Offshore Drilling and Cease Oil Production in California Waters

SACRAMENTO, CA — Senator Min (D-Irvine) introduced new legislation to ban offshore drilling in the State of California, including oil production under current lease agreements. Min’s Senate Bill 953 fulfills his pledge for action in the wake of last year’s Orange County Oil Spill, which leaked nearly 25,000 gallons of crude oil just off the coast of Huntington Beach, shutting down beaches from Orange County to San Diego. This was the largest spill in California waters since the 2015 Refugio Beach oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara.

“Where there is drilling, there is going to be spilling,” Min said.  “We know that the aging infrastructure of these offshore rigs means that we will see more and more of these disastrous oil spills, unless we take action now. Our coastal economies, our precious marine ecosystems, and our right as Californians to access clean and unspoiled beaches are all at risk. We must end offshore drilling off the coast of California now. Not in 5 years, or 10 years or after the next major oil spill. Now. SB 953 would do just that for all offshore drilling in California state waters.” 

The first legislator to call for an outright ban on offshore drilling in the aftermath of the Orange County Oil Spill, Min led a coalition of coastal cities and local leaders in calling for a total ban on offshore drilling in state waters. The introduction of Senate Bill 953 also comes one week after federal, state, and local first responders officially conclude the spill’s clean-up and emergency response phase.

California’s coastal economy is estimated to generate $44 billion each year and employ over half a million Californians. Meanwhile, all offshore drilling off the coast of California—both in state and federal waters—accounts for less than 0.3 percent of all U.S. oil production. SB 953 would end all drilling in California state waters by year-end 2023. There are 11 leases and three active oil rigs in California state waters.

Senate Bill 953 has support from the following environmental organizations who are at the forefront of calls to ban offshore drilling off the coast of California.

"These oil drilling platforms and pipes were called ‘an unacceptable hazard to navigation’ and a ‘veritable minefield inviting catastrophe’ in the 1970’s when Orange County led a lawsuit, along with Huntington, Newport, and Laguna Beaches to stop the leases," said Judie Mancuso, Founder and President of Social Compassion in Legislation headquartered in Laguna Beach. "It is time we continue the fight which our county and coastal cities started over four decades ago, and again stand up against the oil industry to save our pristine coastline, protect our marine and wildlife, while ensuring our local economies can thrive."

“Senator Min’s bill is a crucial response to the oil industry’s horrific record of spewing toxic pollution onto California’s beautiful, fragile coast. 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,” said Miyoko Sakashita, Oceans Program Director, at the Center for Biological Diversity. 

Due to hours-long delay to shut off a ruptured pipeline off the coast of Huntington Beach, oil from the offshore platform operated by Beta Offshore, a subsidiary of Texas based Amplify Energy, damaged 259 miles of Southern California coastline from Seal Beach to south of the Mexican Border.   

Among the hardest hit areas were California’s coastal wetlands and protected marshes, including Huntington Beach and the Bolsa Chica Wetlands, as well as Talbert Marsh, home to federally protected species of birds and other wildlife.  Though the spilling only lasted hours, over 8,000 gallons of crude oil had been removed from the ocean. Teams of more than 1,400 trained crews and 10,000 volunteers recovered almost 600,000 lbs of oiled sand and debris.  While the emergency response may have ended, the Natural Resource Damage Assessment is still underway to monitor continued restoration efforts to protect and preserve impacted areas.

 

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Senator Dave Min represents California State Senate District 37, which is located in Orange County and includes the communities of Anaheim, Anaheim Hills, Costa Mesa, Foothill Ranch, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Newport Beach, North Tustin, Orange, Portola Hills, Silverado Canyon, Tustin, and Villa Park.