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Rep. Salud Carbajal reintroduces bill to ban offshore drilling in California

Platform Holly, offshore from Goleta, November 2018.
Photo by Glenn Beltz
Platform Holly, offshore from Goleta, November 2018.

Congressman Salud Carbajal has reintroduced the California Clean Coast Act to ban future offshore oil and gas leasing off the coast of California.

It’s in response to a renewed push by the new house Republican majority to expand drilling and oil lease sales.

Though President Joe Biden passed a five-year-ban on oil and gas development on the California coast, Carbajal said there’s no guarantee it will stay in place.

“This can change by the stroke of a pin by any administration, and that's why the California Clean Coast bill that I'm reintroducing will codify no drilling into law,” Carbajal said.

Carbajal said the bill is important for protecting the coastline from the devastating and long-lasting effects of oil spills. The Central Coast’s most recent major spill was the 2015 Refugio Oil Spill, when over 140,000 gallons of oil spilled into the Santa Barbara Channel.

This is Carbajal’s fourth time introducing the California Clean Act, and he said he’s determined to see it become law.

It's passed the House of Representatives twice already in 2019 and 2021, so there's already a history and a momentum here that we just need to continue to move forward,” Carbajal said.

Last year Gov. Gavin Newsom passed a plan for California to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045. Carbajal said banning offshore oil drilling would bolster California’s transition away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy.

“We can address climate change by investing and bringing about renewable energy in the form of solar and offshore wind, like we're doing off of the coast of San Luis Obispo- Morro Bay,” Carbajal said. “And actually save the environment and diversify our energy supplies for the Central Coast and our nation.”

Carbajal said the Morro Bay wind project could one day produce enough clean energy to power millions of homes.

Carbajal’s bill has not yet gone to committee.

KCBX Reporter Amanda Wernik graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a BS in Journalism. Amanda is currently a fellow with the USC Center for Health Journalism, completing a data fellowship that will result in a news feature series to air on KCBX in the winter of 2024.
Benjamin Purper was News Director of KCBX from May of 2021 to September of 2023. He came from California’s Inland Empire, where he spent three years as a reporter and Morning Edition host at KVCR in San Bernardino. Dozens of his stories have aired on KQED’s California Report, and his work has broadcast on NPR's news magazines, as well. In addition to radio, Ben has worked as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer.