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Gov. Brown asks for permanent ban on new offshore drilling

Greta Mart/KCBX
The view of Central Coast federal waters from Morro Strand State Beach.

California Governor Jerry Brown Tuesday sent a letter to President Obama, requesting the president permanently ban offshore oil and gas exploration in California’s coastal waters.

The letter was a part of Brown's effort this week to bolster environmental protections. He also backed an effort to advance offshore wind and wave energy projects and joined an international alliance focused on reversing ocean acidification. 

"California is blessed with hundreds of miles of spectacular coastline; home to scenic state parks, beautiful beaches, abundant wildlife and thriving communities," Brown wrote in Tuesday's letter to Obama. "Clearly, large new oil and gas reserves would be inconsistent with our overriding imperative to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and combat the devastating impacts of climate 

California League of Conservation Voters spokesperson Andy Kelley said the president has the power to extend the current ban - in place until 2022 - on offshore drilling along the west coast. 

"We are very glad to see that the governor - and also a couple of weeks ago, the legislative leadership - asking President Obama to act while he is still in office to make sure the temporary ban is made permanent," Kelley said. 

Sabrina Lockhart, spokesperson for the California Independent Petroleum Association, said the group did not have an immediate response to the letter, but CEO Rock Zierman said "future offshore drilling faces major political hurdles."

"In terms of offshore drilling, new platforms are very unlikely," Zierman writes on CIPA's website. "But oil companies can drill directionally from one of the existing platforms to an adjacent lease. That's a way of getting a new lease and tapping new resources without installing a new platform."

In his letter, Brown urges Obama to use the presidential authority written into the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to prevent new oil and gas drilling off California’s coast. He could do so by removing West Coast federal waters from areas available for future leasing. The Act states, "the President shall determine and publish in the Federal Register," the boundaries of leaseable seabed.

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