Two Coastal Protection Bills Head to Governor's Desk

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Source: Office of Sen. Jackson

Yesterday, two key coastal protection bills authored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), SB 44 (Coastal Oil Wells) and SB 290 (Marine Entanglement), passed the Assembly floor with a 76-0 vote and 60-15 vote, respectively.

Senate Bill 44, the Coastal Oil Well Clean Up and Remediation Act, will require that the California State Lands Commission plug old “orphaned” oil wells in California waters when the original oil company that operated the well is out of business and cannot be held responsible. Recent survey work by the California State Lands Commission has identified approximately 200 of these so-called “legacy” oil wells off the coast of Santa Barbara, more than previously thought. Summerland Beach has approximately 192 of these wells, and the other eight are located in the Ellwood and Rincon fields off the Santa Barbara coast.

“I am pleased this bill moved forward as it preserves our economy, our beaches and our public health. It is of utmost importance that we locate and cap these old and abandoned wells in order to prevent potential oil leaks and fumes that ruin our water, sand and ocean and affect our children, out-of-town visitors, birds, fish and other marine life,” said Jackson.

Senate Bill 290, would create an emergency grant program for authorized organizations that respond to stranded marine mammals and to marine wildlife that have been entangled in fishing and other gear. Last year, 71 whales were reported entangled along the California coast. A record 6,000 stranded sea lions, harbor seals, elephant seals, and other mammals were rescued off the California coast in 2015-2016. The Pacific leatherback sea turtle is the California state marine reptile, and is also listed as critically endangered. Last year, two sea turtles were reported entangled and only one of entangled turtles was released alive.

“Whales are a particularly important part of California’s heritage and people from around the world travel to see these magnificent creatures on whale-watching tours along our coast,” said Jackson. “The whale entanglement issue has been a grave concern the last few years and it is time we support our network of volunteers that dedicates their personal funds and effort to protect our precious marine life.”

Both bills now head to the Governor’s desk.

Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.

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