Attorney General Becerra to Trump Administration: Drilling Off Of California’s Coast Is A Non-Starter
SACRAMENTO – In comments submitted today, Attorney General Xavier Becerra expressed his strong opposition to any attempt by the Trump Administration to open California’s coast to new offshore drilling. On April 28, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order that directed the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) to consider revising the 2017-2022 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program to allow offshore drilling in many new parts of the country.
In response, DOI is soliciting information and public comment about areas such as California’s coast that are currently under moratorium or otherwise unavailable. For over 30 years, under both Republican and Democratic administrations, DOI has not included California in a leasing program and has not conducted a California lease sale.
“Californians have made it clear that they do not want new drilling off the shores of California’s coast,” said Attorney General Becerra. “As their Attorney General, I will do everything possible to protect our state’s pristine natural resources. This decision does not make sense since the oil and gas industry has no interest in exploring and developing off California’s shore. The Trump Administration should focus on developing clean energy alternatives so that this nation remains energy independent into the foreseeable future.”
In comments submitted to DOI, Attorney General Becerra pointed out that:
- The oil and gas industry has shown a lack of interest in again attempting to explore and develop off California’s shore;
- Offshore drilling in California involves exceptional environmental risks that would only generate meager returns;
- Any company seeking to drill off of California’s coast would face a challenging regulatory environment; and
- California is an international leader in taking steps to address climate change and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act Amendments of 1978 govern the leasing and development of offshore drilling. Congress enacted the law in the context of OPEC oil embargoes that greatly reduced the supply of oil and greatly increased its price. The energy markets are very different today. Today, while the United States is not free of imported oil, it has largely achieved energy security.
Since taking office, Attorney General Becerra has been fighting to protect our environment. Among other actions, he challenged the EPA’s illegal delay of important national air quality control standards, and the EPA subsequently backed down. He has also expressed his strong opposition to the Trump Administration’s “review” of national marine sanctuaries and national monuments, and submitted legal objections to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s decision to allow food tolerances for chlorpyrifos, a pesticide suspected of causing health problems in infants and children, to remain in effect without finding that the tolerance levels were safe.
A copy of the comments is attached to the electronic version of this release at oag.ca.gov/news