Legislation stalls; California will not ban offshore drilling

An attempt by regional politicians to bring in a ban on offshore drilling off California has failed. A bill was brought forward after an oil spill off the Orange County coast in October 2021.

The bill, SB 953, failed to advance from a key committee, effectively meaning that it is dead in the water.

Even after the measure was updated to delay when the extraction practice would cease, it faced opposition from the fossil fuel industry and its labour allies, two politically powerful forces in the California Capitol.

California is the seventh-largest oil-producing state in the country, activity that creates well-paid jobs and contributes to local tax bases.

California Independent Petroleum Association CEO Rock Zierman said that “I think most legislators understand that every barrel of oil we don’t produce here under our strict environmental rules must be imported by foreign tankers floating offshore in our crowded ports from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, or the Ecuadorian rainforest”.

Last October’s spill was alleged by federal prosecutors to have been exacerbated by an oil platform operator’s negligent response to what was probably an anchor striking an underwater pipeline some nine months earlier.