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County endorses legislation banning offshore drilling 

Before the SLO County Board of Supervisors voted to oppose a proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary off SLO’s coast on Feb. 7, Supervisor Lynn Compton responded bluntly to residents anxious about the vote’s implications for offshore oil and gas drilling.

A marine sanctuary isn’t the best way to prevent future drilling, Compton said.

The most direct route, she said, would be through U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal’s (D-Santa Barbara) recently introduced legislation—the California Clean Coast Act—which would permanently ban new offshore oil and gas leasing in California if it passes.

On Feb. 28, the Clean Coast Act came before the board as part of a discussion about the county’s federal agenda, and the Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 to sign off on a letter of support for Carbajal’s bill.

Supervisor Debbie Arnold dissented, while board Chair John Peschong recused himself due to his past consulting work with oil and gas companies.

“We thought it’d be a good idea to at least talk about the issue of offshore oil drilling,” said Supervisor Adam Hill, who led the discussion in Peschong’s absence. “It’s pretty clear that the bill has no chance of passing this Congress, [but] it’s a bill that represents the interests of the citizens of the Central Coast in a good way.”

Indeed, Carbajal himself told New Times in January that the Clean Coast Act had a slim chance of success in Congress. The bill is currently in the House of Representatives’ Natural Resources Committee.

Oil and gas activity in SLO County is a hot-button topic of late in light of the county’s stance on the marine sanctuary, local oil-related projects like the Philips 66 rail spur extension, and national politics.

“I am grateful to the SLO County Board of Supervisors for their support of my efforts in Congress to protect our precious coastline,” Congressman Carbajal wrote to New Times in an email. “I will continue to work hard to grow support for this legislation and to preserve our ecologically diverse environment for future generations on the Central Coast.”

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