Advocacy group raises California oil and gas alarm

California Gov. Jerry Brown has been a vocal critic of federal aims for more offshore drilling.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  April 12, 2018 at 8:25 AM
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April 12 (UPI) -- While issuing a call to the governor to halt new oil and gas projects, an environmental advocacy group said companies in California repeatedly broke state laws.

In its review of state records, the Center for Biological Diversity said companies working off the coast of southern California have violated state regulations more than 350 times over the last three years. Violations range from corrosion to the failure of well integrity tests.

"It's time to get this decaying infrastructure and the oil drilling that comes with it out of our ocean for good," Kristen Monsell, an attorney for the group, said in a statement.

None of the companies mentioned by the center published responses to the findings. Much of the offshore infrastructure in California was built in the 1960s. More than 700 public interest groups sent a letter to California Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday urging him not to issue any new permits for oil and gas operations in the state.

Brown's office had no response to the letter as of Thursday morning EST.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced at the start of the year that nearly all of the outer continental shelf would be open to drillers in the next five-year lease starting in 2019. The proposed program, opened for public comment, called for 19 lease sales offshore Alaska, seven in the Pacific Region, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico and nine in the Atlantic.

In response, California's governor was joined by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee in issuing a joint statement describing the decision as a "reckless, short-sighted action."

A report last year from the U.S. Energy Information Administration put California behind Texas and North Dakota, respectively, for crude oil production. Offshore areas have large, undiscovered deposits, though drilling has been more or less idled since a spill offshore in 1969.

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