Senator McGuire introduces legislation to permanently ban offshore oil drilling along California’s coast

SB 788 would close the offshore oil drilling loophole

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sacramento, CA – Senator Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) has introduced legislation to forever protect our coast from new offshore oil development in state waters – a move that will protect our pristine beaches and benefit our coastal and state economy from what would be devastating impacts of an offshore oil spill.

“We have to close the loophole in state law that could allow for new offshore oil development,” Senator McGuire said. “After all of the work that we have done to protect our coast and our environment, it’s unconscionable to think that there is a loophole that could lead to additional drilling in state water. It poses too great a risk.”

In 1969, for 11 days, more than 4 million gallons of crude oil blew into the ocean just off of Santa Barbara’s coast. Two hundred square miles of ocean and 35 miles of California coastline were oiled and thousands of animals were killed. As a result, California has taken a position to intentionally forgo any revenue from new offshore oil development due to the unacceptably high risk, and has instead focused on developing clean renewable energy. 

Originally passed in 1994, a loophole in the Coastal Sanctuary Act allowed the State Lands Commission to grant new leases for offshore oil and gas development.

Senator McGuire has introduced SB 788 – The Coastal Protection Act – to close that loophole and forever protect California’s coast. New offshore oil leases are a real possibility in California and developers are already testing the political waters.

“A year after the terrible oil spill in Santa Barbara, locals got together and held the first-ever Earth Day. Every year since then, for 45 years now, we have celebrated these efforts to protect our environment from the devastating impacts a sizeable oil spill off our coast would have on our natural resources, our ocean and our coastal dependent economies,” Senator McGuire said.

California has the world’s 8th largest economy. Coastal communities contribute $40 billion annually to the state’s economy, and provide nearly half a million important jobs. Commercial fisheries in the state are valued at more than $7 billion annually. Ocean dependent tourism is valued at over $10 billion annually. Recreational fishing is valued at over $2 billion annually along California’s coast.

SB 788 will help our coastal economy thrive and permanently protect California’s coast from the impacts of an offshore oil spill.

“I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Earth Day than in support of Senator McGuire’s bill. It is in our DNA in California to protect our natural resources,” said Senate Fran Pavley, Chair of Senate Natural Resources and Water.

“More than 45 years ago, California witnessed just how dangerous and damaging offshore oil drilling can be. A massive oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara shocked the nation and launched the modern environmental movement. It spurred the passage of some of the most important federal and state laws designed to protect our air and water quality, wildlife, and natural heritage. However, over the years, oil industry interests have managed to carve out an exception in the California Coastal Sanctuary Act of 1994,” said Edward Moreno, Policy Advocate with Sierra Club California.

“This has been a long struggle. Elected officials all over the state of California know that protection for our coast and ocean is supported by all Californians, no matter their political party. Now, thanks to Senator McGuire, the next step is being taken,” said Rachel Binah, Environmental Caucus Chair, Emerita (California Democratic Party).

“Our coastline is pristine, it’s beautiful and we need to keep it that way. The economic impact of an oil spill along our coast would be devastating for our economy, devastating for our fisheries and devastating for our wildlife,” said North Coast Assemblymember Jim Wood.

SB 788 has broad support. Principal coauthors are Senators Jackson and Leno and Assemblymember Levine. Coauthors are Senators Allen, Hancock, and Wolk and Assemblymembers Dodd, Wood, Mark Stone, and Williams.

California Coastkeeper Alliance, California Coastal Protection Network, California League of Conservation Voters, California Sea Urchin Commission, California Sport Fishing League, California Trout, Center for Biological Diversity, Clean Water Action, Coast Seafoods Company, Defenders of Wildlife, Environment California, Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, Environmental Defense Fund, Fishing Vessel Corregidor, Golden Gate Salmon Association, Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake, Heal the Bay, Hog Island Oyster Company, Humboldt Baykeeper, Kayak Zak’s, Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, Mad River Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council, Ocean Outfall Group, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Santa Barbara Environmental Defense Center, Sherwood Valley Band of Pomo Indians, Sierra Club California, Smith River Rancheria, Surfrider Foundation, The Northcoast Environmental Center, The Wildlands Conservancy, Union of Concerned Scientist, West Marin Environmental Action Committee.

For more information or questions, please contact Kerrie Lindecker, Communications Coordinator, at 707-319-3654, or email her at

Photo attached: Pictured at the Earth Day launch of SB 788 with Senator Mike McGuire are Senator Fran Pavley, Tim Sloane (Program Director, Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman), Monica Schmalenberger (Senator Lois Wolk’s office), Linda Escalante (Natural Resources Defense Council), Edward Moreno( Sierra Club), Senator Ben Allen, Assemblymember Bill Dodd, Assemblymember Jim Wood and longtime environmental activist Rachel Binah from the Mendocino Coast.