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California Speaks: Should oil drilling be allowed off the coast?

J. Stephen Conn via Flickr, used under CC BY-NC 2.0 / Resized and cropped
Offshore Oil Rig, Oxnard, Ventura County, California

California is facing another showdown with the Trump administration. This time over offshore drilling. As part of a state-wide, multi-station project based here at KALW, we asked you to share your thoughts.

For decades, elected officials have kept the California coast free from new drilling developments. They banned offshore drilling back in 1969, then they reinforced that ban in 1994 by passing the California Coastal Sanctuary Act. It prohibited new oil and gas leases in the state’s coastal waters.

Now, the Trump administration has different plans. Last year, the president issued an Executive Order to expand offshore oil and gas drilling in U.S. waters. In a press conference, he said, "Renewed offshore energy production will reduce the cost of energy, create countless new jobs, and make America more secure and far more energy independent."

This year, the administration doubled down, announcing a policy to open over 90% of Outer Continental Shelf off the coasts.

In the announcement, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke noted, “If the state doesn’t want it, the state has a lot of leverage.” Florida, for one, has pretty much opted out of offshore drilling. Now California is planning on using its legislative leverage to prohibit it, too.

A bill is currently making its way through the senate and the assembly. It would prohibit the State Lands Commission from approving any new leases for pipelines, piers, wharves, or other infrastructure needed to support new federal oil and gas development. That would cover the three-mile area off the coast that’s controlled by the state.

As of right now, there are 23 oil and gas production facilities in federal waters off the southern California coast, along with four offshore oil platforms, and five artificial islands. The proposed legislation would prohibit any lease renewal, extension or modification supporting those facilities.

The bill has passed the Senate and it’s now in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. It could head to Governor Brown for his signature by the end of next month.

So, where do Californians stand with the prospect of drilling off our coast? Well, that was the question we asked people up and down the state as part of our project, California Speaks. The responses were unanimous:







"Absolutely not."


"Not at all."




Many of the people who called in also shared why they are against offshore drilling, including Margaret from Cambria, CA:

"Our very existence depends on protecting the habitat that provides jobs, food, clean water, and the very air we breathe. So, offshore oil drilling in California? Absolutely not."

You can hear and read all of the responses at speakca.net.

There’s a new question this week and we’d like to know what you think: “Do you trust your local, state, and federal governments?”

Share your thoughts at 1-833-SPEAK-CA. It’s a chance to make your voice heard.