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No new oil and gas leases for sale along California coast under new federal proposal

Flickr member Ken Lund

There will be no new oil or gas leases offered along the Central Coast in the immediate future according to a draft proposal by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Central Coast Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) said she applauds the decision to protect the area from new drilling.

Capps led a California Congressional Delegation last summer urging the department to exclude in it's proposal any offshore oil and gas lease sales off the West Coast.

Rock Zierman, CEO of the California Independent Petroleum Association, says he's not surprised by the reluctance to include California in the plan, but hopes that will change eventually.

"The West Coast has not been part of the conversation relative to opening up new leases in federal waters," said Zierman."There should be a time when we have an intelligent conversation about that because there are a lot of resources that are available--tens of billions of barrels that we can get without building any new platforms."

Congresswoman Capps says Central Coast residents are well aware of the environmental consequences of offshore drilling, which she believes outweigh any potential benefits.

"Instead of focusing on the fuels of the past, we should foster and support the sustainable energy industry which has grown to be an important part of the Central Coast economy,” said Capps.