State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson and Rep. Salud Carbajal announced new oil legislation on Monday, the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill.
Ms. Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, introduced Senate Bill 169, which would strengthen pipeline safety requirements by closing loopholes exploited by pipeline operators.
“Specifically, the bill states that all pipelines, regardless of whether they are being operated to full or partial capacity, are required to follow all applicable California laws,” Ms. Jackson said in a statement.
“Some operators are sidestepping California’s pipeline safety requirements and defaulting to the less-stringent federal standards by operating at partial capacity,” she said.
Federal standards only require inspections every fire years, but California requires them every year, she said.
California also has stricter infrastructure standards than the federal government. Ms. Jackson speculated those higher standards may have prevented the 2015 Refugio oil spill that was caused by a ruptured pipeline owned by Plains All American Pipeline.
“Around $1 million worth of investment and that tragedy could have been prevented. I don’t know the total cost, but I’m sure it’s a lot more than $1 million for them and for Santa Barbara.”
Ms. Jackson added that the bill would require pipeline operators to provide records necessary for inspection and compliance investigations to the State Fire Marshal when requested. Those documents include maps, written procedures, accident reporting and information on design, construction and operation.
The fire marshal would be empowered with right of entry into any premises on which records reports or other required information are located and could access and copy that information.
Ms. Jackson alleged some pipeline operators are not producing safety-related documents to state regulators in a reasonable time, which delays safety investigations.
She argued her bill is an important chapter in the environmental movement sparked by the Santa Barbara oil spill.
“In the spill’s aftermath, a robust environmental movement raised public awareness about the harms posed by offshore oil and we passed significant legislation to protect our coastline. SB 169 furthers this important work by ensuring oil companies are not able to sidestep California’s stringent pipeline safety laws,” she said.
The bill has been sent to the Senate Rules Committee for referral to a policy committee.
Ms. Jackson also introduced a senate resolution in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Santa Barbara oil spill and to honor California’s environmental activists on Monday.
Mr. Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, reintroduced the California Clean Coast Act in the House of Representatives. He introduced the same bill in 2017 but it was not enacted.
Carbajal spokeswoman Tess Whittlesey said the legislation was a priority for Mr. Carbajal due to the 50th anniversary of the Santa Barbara oil spill.
“In California, our coastal communities, local economies, and fragile ocean ecosystems cannot afford another disastrous oil spill. That is why it is critical that we pass legislation to protect our coastal environment from further oil drilling and preserve its beauty and vibrancy for future generations,” Mr. Carbajal said in a statement.
The act would permanently ban future offshore oil and gas leasing in areas of the Outer Continental Shelf off the coast of California.
The bill is opposed by the California Independent Petroleum Association, a nonprofit oil trade association.
“California already has the toughest environmental protections on the planet regarding oil production, which is why we have operated offshore safely in California for half a century,” said CEO Rock Zierman.
“Banning domestic energy production would only increase our reliance on imported oil from foreign countries that do not follow California’s strict regulations and must be sent here by supertanker or rail car, both of which present their own set of environmental impacts,” Mr. Zierman said.