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Carbajal bills fight oil and gas drilling 

Two bills recently introduced by U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) would restrict oil and gas developments on the Central Coast if passed, which the congressman believes will pave the way for a local renewable energy economy.

The California Land Protection Act, introduced by Carbajal alongside Central Coast colleagues on Jan. 25, would block new fracking, or oil and gas drilling, on California federal lands. Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Ventura) and Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-Monterey) are original co-sponsors of the bill.

click to enlarge NO FRACKING Two bills introduced by U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal would ban oil and gas drilling on the Central Coast if passed: one by halting fracking on federal lands, and the other by forbidding offshore drilling. - FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
  • NO FRACKING Two bills introduced by U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal would ban oil and gas drilling on the Central Coast if passed: one by halting fracking on federal lands, and the other by forbidding offshore drilling.

"Specifically here on the Central Coast, it would prohibit the Bureau of Land Management to pursue oil and gas leasing as they have done before, or tried to do before," Carbajal told New Times.

While President Joe Biden signed executive orders on Jan. 27 that temporarily halt drilling on federal lands—a reversal of Trump administration policies—Carbajal emphasized the importance of making these actions permanent. The bill would also require the Bureau of Land Management to submit a comprehensive environmental review if they were to try and drill on public lands.

A second piece of legislation, the California Clean Coast Act, was the first bill Carbajal ever introduced as a member of Congress, and on Jan. 28 he announced its formal reintroduction. It would "preclude oil and gas development off our California Coast specifically," Carbajal said.

In addition to blocking fracking on federal lands, Biden's executive orders temporarily halted oil and gas drilling on offshore waters, but Carbajal's bill would "ban it outright, permanently."

"They could easily pursue selling leases off our coast, and the Biden administration put a moratorium on that for the time being, but that's all it is: it's temporary," Carbajal said. "My legislation would be permanent."

The reintroduction of the California Clean Coast Act coincides with the 52nd anniversary of the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, Carbajal said, a sobering reminder of the state's most devastating oil disaster.

"If history proves us right, we know that the oil industry is a perilous industry," Carbajal said. "We've seen a number of oil spills, the most recent one was the Refugio oil spill. ... And certainly the '69 oil spill, all of these spills, remind us of the perilous nature of the oil industry."

Carbajal would like to see a "paradigm shift" that incentivizes and rewards renewable energy rather than fossil fuels.

"We need to create green jobs that people who are currently in the oil industry could transition to," Carbajal said. "When you consider the closing of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, that's going to put out 1,500 people. We need to provide jobs for those in that industry as well so that we could continue to provide employment opportunities to everyone."

Carbajal's bill received a strong coalition of support from local environmental groups, who say another Central Coast oil spill is "not a question of if—but when."

"From the 1969 blowout at Platform A, to the 2015 pipeline spill along the Gaviota Coast, the Central Coast has suffered the devastating effects of offshore oil development on our communities and those who live, recreate, and work here," said Linda Krop, chief counsel of the Environmental Defense Center, in a statement from Carbajal's office. "The California Clean Coast Act will preserve our precious coast from the threats of future oil spills and climate change." Δ

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