Trump's Push for New Offshore Drilling Is Likely to Run Aground in California
Fifty years ago, on January 28, 1969, a blowout from Union Oils Platform A spilled more than 3.2 million gallons of oil into the Santa Barbara Channel. The disaster was a seminal event that helped create the modern environmental movement, and it forever changed the political and legal landscape for offshore oil development in California. No new oil leases have been approved off the California coast since 1984.
Today a large majority of Californians believe that offshore oil development is not worth the risk. Opposition stands at 69 percent, including a majority of coastal Republicans.
The Trump administration is pushing to dramatically expand federal offshore oil and gas production, reigniting a battle 50-year battle with California over this issue. But based on my research and years of experience working with passionate Californians as the executive director of the California Coastal Commission, I expect that there will be a long and protracted fight before any new oil development is authorized here.
Before the Blowout
The first offshore oil wells were drilled in 1896 from wooden piers in Summerland, California. By 1906, some 400 wells had been drilled. The first true open-water well was drilled in 1938 in the Gulf of Mexico. In that same year, California created the State Lands Commission to better regulate leasing and production of offshore oil. As new technology enabled drilling in deeper waters, the commission began leasing tidelands near Huntington Beach and off of Ventura ....