Attorney General Becerra: If You Try to Open California’s Coast to Offshore Drilling, We’ll See You in Court

Friday, March 9, 2018
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In Comment Letter, AG Becerra Details California's Strong Opposition to Trump Administration Proposal to Allow Drilling Off Our Coast

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today submitted a 22-page comment letter to the Trump Administration, detailing the plethora of reasons why opening California’s coasts to new offshore drilling would be unjustified, unprecedented, and ill-advised. California is home to approximately 1,100 miles of world-renowned coastline, and Attorney General Becerra underscores that he is prepared to do what is necessary to protect every single one of those 1,100 miles, including going to court.

“California has banned offshore drilling for two simple reasons: we don’t need it and we know what happens when it goes wrong,” said Attorney General Becerra. “That’s why we are proudly leading the way on reducing dependence on fossil fuels – and we’re not turning back. If the Trump Administration ultimately tries to open our coasts to new offshore drilling, we will see them in court.”

In today’s letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Attorney General Becerra lodges formal objections to leasing off California’s coast. Specifically, he stresses that:

  • California is familiar with the environmental and economic consequences of oil spills. The 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, for instance, resulted in an 11-day spill with as much as 4.2 million gallons of crude oil gushing from the well and ocean floor; 
  • California’s thriving coastal economy—which represents over 10 percent of the national economy and generates $1.7 trillion of GDP (a figure greater than all but 11 nations)—should not be put at risk by increased oil drilling in federal waters off our coast;
  • Any benefit of increased oil production to California is insignificant;
  • Regional and national energy markets do not need oil production in federal waters off California;
  • The lack of industry interest in developing in federal waters off of California weighs heavily against new oil drilling;
  • California’s laws, goals, and policies are contrary to new oil drilling off our coast;
  • BOEM’s analysis needs to take into account current and foreseeable lack of onshore infrastructure, and BOEM needs to consider the potential damage and costs from increased greenhouse gas emissions the oil drilling would cause; 
  • BOEM’s consideration of environmental factors and concerns does not accurately account for the sensitivity of California’s marine environment; and
  • Fairly balancing the potential for environmental damage, the potential for the discovery of oil and gas, and the potential for adverse impact on the coastal zone would exclude California’s planning areas from leasing.

Attorney General Becerra has expressed his opposition to the Trump Administration’s proposal to open California’s coast to new offshore drilling on numerous occasions. He quickly responded to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s decision to exempt Florida from offshore drilling on January 9, penned a New York Times op-ed titled “Florida Isn’t the Only State That Will Be Hurt by Offshore Drilling” on January 16, and sent a multi-state letter to Secretary Zinke on February 1.

A copy of today’s comment letter is attached to the electronic version of this release at

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PDF icon AG OCS Comment.pdf3.04 MB