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Brown Signs Bills to Make New Offshore Drilling in California More Difficult

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Anti-drilling rally thrown by Oceana in Santa Cruz on February 3, 2018. (Courtesy of Oceana)

Gov. Jerry Brown signed two bills into law on Saturday, which will make renewed attempts by the Trump administration to introduce more offshore drilling along the California coast more difficult.

Back in January, the federal government moved to allow new offshore gas and oil drilling in almost all the coastal waters along the United States. But the new laws, SB 834 and AB 1775, seek to block that expansion by prohibiting new leases for construction of oil and gas-related infrastructure, like pipelines or docks, that could be used to bring that oil to land.

“Today, California’s message to the Trump administration is simple: Not here, not now,” Brown said in a statement. “We will not let the federal government pillage public lands and destroy our treasured coast.”

The move comes just days before San Francisco hosts the Global Climate Action Summit, and the same day thousands across the world are taking to the streets in climate change marches.

May Boeve, executive director of the climate change advocacy group 350.org which helped organize the climate march in San Francisco, called Brown's announcement "pure theater."

"The message from the 30,000 people marching in the streets of San Francisco today was clear: keep fossil fuels in the ground," Boeve said in a statement. "We’re going to keep pushing the Governor throughout next week’s Global Climate Action Summit to deliver something more than symbolic gestures."

Los Angeles Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, who co-authored AB 1775, said in a statement that with the signing of the bills, "we are standing up to protect the South Bay in my district and our state’s entire coast from the threat of more offshore oil drilling and ugly oil rigs."

According to a recent poll from the Public Policy Institute of California, nearly 70 percent of Californians oppose new offshore drilling and only 25 percent support it.

"The coast of California is truly an integral part of our state and nation's economic engine," says state Sen. Hannah Beth-Jackson, who authored SB 834. "Expanded offshore oil and gas production really directly threatens the health of our coast and our various economic aspects to it: commercial fishing, aqua culture, tourism, recreation. Our coast is part of our essence and part of the resources, the natural beauty that inspires Californians."

According to the Business Alliance to Protect the Pacific Coast, California's coastal economy attracts 400,000 jobs and generates almost $20 billion annually in fishing, recreation and tourism.

Late Friday, Brown also officially declared the state's opposition to a proposal from the federal Bureau of Land Management to open up new public land and mineral estates for oil and gas lease sales.

The laws will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019.

This post was updated to include a comment from 350.org.


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