Bill to ban future oil and gas projects off the California coast gets local support

Aug 19, 2014

An oil platform is seen off the Santa Barbara County coast.
Credit Flickr member DieselDemon

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday morning in favor of supporting a bill that would ban future oil and gas drilling projects within California's coastal waters. 

Here's a breakdown of how the individual supervisors voted:

  • Dist. 1 - Salud Carbajal - YES
  • Dist. 2 - Janet Wolf - YES
  • Dist. 3 - Doreen Farr - YES
  • Dist. 4 - Peter Adam - NO
  • Dist. 5 - Steve Lavagnino - NO

An earlier motion to show opposition to the bill yielded another 3-to-2 split, with the vote outcome for each supervisor flipped from their latter position.

State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) introduced SB-1096 to remove a clause in a 20-year-old state law that provides an exception for offshore drilling.

While the board narrowly voted in support of the bill, Board Chair Steve Lavagnino—who was against the motion—had some concerns regarding the letter of support.

"I would like for the letter to say that it was at least a three-to-two vote," said Lavagnino, whose signature will appear on the letter.

The public speakers addressing the supervisors were also split on their support for the bill.

"The north county folks are highly dependent upon the industry so I do think it's a little false and misleading to put the tourism industry in front of the oil and gas industry as far as the importance that it brings to the local economy," said Western States Petroleum Association representative Sandra Burkhart. 

"Tourism is the number two industry in the County of Santa Barbara," said Senator Jackson, who was not at today's board meeting. "It provides more jobs and more financial resources than oil drilling by a long shot."

Jackson believes the assumption that her bill would be a large burden to the local petroleum industry is based on false notions.

"No projects would be halted," she said. "The drilling that goes on now outside of our coastal waters as it exists will not be impacted. This is just to close that loophole for any future efforts to create new drilling within our state's coastal waters."

The bill could be up for an Assembly vote as soon as next week, and would head back to the Senate if passed.