Central Coast Congressman Salud Carbajal is re-introducing legislation to protect federal land on the Central Coast, saying he’s optimistic Congress will be more receptive because of a new Biden administration.
Carbajal represents the 24th congressional district covering San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, and parts of Ventura County. His bill would permanently ban future offshore oil and gas leasing off the California coast.
The congressman first introduced H.R. Bill 455, the California Clean Coast Act, in 2017 but it never passed.
He’s reintroduced it every year since then and thinks this time, he has a better chance with a new congress.
Carbajal says he’s also encouraged by President Joe Biden signing an executive order to temporarily halt oil and gas drilling on federal public lands and offshore waters.
“I am hoping it becomes law but, at the very least, I am hoping it continues to remind and press the Biden administration that there’s also actions he can take to make sure we are protecting our coast,” Rep. Carbajal said.
President Biden’s executive order also identifies steps to increase renewable energy production from offshore wind by 2030.
That has led Carbajal to work with various stakeholders to attract offshore wind energy off the San Luis Obispo coastline.
The Santa Barbara Sierra Club is one of many local environmental groups supporting the congressman’s bill, according to Group Chair Katie Davis.
“The Pacific Ocean is a really important biodiversity hotspot," Davis said. "It’s very important ecologically, but it’s also important economically to protect our Pacific Ocean."
According to Carbajal, if passed, his Clean Coast Act would provide for a phased out process in order to prevent any sudden displacement of employees currently working in oil and gas drilling on the Central Coast.
Carbajal said he hopes his bill, combined with a shift toward renewable energy production, will create a new job sector and add more workers.
“I want to make sure that not only are we working to create this renewable energy source, but that we are creating jobs sooner rather than later,” Rep. Carbajal said.
It is the congressman’s hope that the Clean Coast Act will become part of a larger statewide and even national shift toward renewable energy production to protect the environment from climate change.
In addition to the California Clean Coast Act, Carbajal recently advocated for two other pieces of environmental legislation: his Central Coast Heritage Protection Act and a California Land Protection Act, both of which prevent oil and gas leasing along the Central Coast.