Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

California Has Ample Weapons to Fight Trump on Drilling

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

California Has Ample Weapons to Fight Trump on Drilling

Article excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO * In the decades since a 1969 oil spill near Santa Barbara tarred sea life and gave rise to the U.S. environmental movement, politicians and activists have built up ample ways to make it difficult but not impossible to renew drilling off California's coast, which the administration of President Donald Trump, a Republican, wants to do.

The Interior Department said Thursday that it planned to open most federal waters off the United States to oil leases.

In California, where no new federal leases offshore have been approved since 1984, Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, joined governors of Oregon and Washington in vowing to do "whatever it takes" to stop that from happening off the West Coast.

State officials, environmental groups and oil-industry analysts say California has solid regulatory and legal means to try to make good on that threat. For one thing, oil companies know that even if the federal government sells leases in federal waters, California and other coastal states by law control the 3 miles nearest to shore, all along the coasts.

That means California decides on permits for any oil pipelines that would connect oil platforms to land, along with any transport centers, refineries or holding stations once the crude makes it ashore.

"Operators don't tend to operate (off) states that don't want production," said Kevin Book, an analyst with ClearView Energy Partners in Washington, D.C.

There are ways around California's 3-mile lock on shore such as using ships instead of pipelines to transport oil from platforms in federal waters, he said.

But considering all the potential financial, regulatory and legal problems oil companies would face in drilling off California, oil prices would have to go far higher to make that enticing, Book said.

"At today's crude oil prices, the way companies look at political risk when you do the math on paper it doesn't add up," Book said. …

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