The Obama Administration confirmed this week there will be no new oil drilling allowed in federal waters off California’s Central Coast, at least for the next five years.
On Friday, U.S. Dept. of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell released the federal government’s oil and gas leasing program for offshore federal waters through 2022.
Under the plan, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will not sell leases to oil companies that involve drilling off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California, including Central Coast waters from Hearst Castle to Point Conception. The plan also excludes Alaska’s Arctic seas and East Coast waters.
The plan does allow for the possibility of 11 lease sales - ten are located in the Gulf of Mexico and one in Alaska’s Cook Inlet area.
In the works since mid-2014, the new five-year program becomes final in 60 days, just before President Obama’s term ends. Once certified by Jewell, under federal guidelines, the incoming administration will not be able to change the program or initiate any new lease sales unless it starts the planning process all over again, which takes a minimum of two years.