June 23, 2024
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Bill would ban offshore oil drilling along West Coast


Lawmakers have launched another attempt to ban offshore oil drilling.

While recent attempts to limit Big Oil’s reach have been concentrated to specific regions, this one is targeting the entire West Coast. But even bills with a more narrow scope do not often get passed.

U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, authored the West Coast Ocean Protection Act, which would prohibit new oil or natural gas leases in any area of the outer continental shelf along the California, Oregon and Washington coasts.

Marine sanctuaries that span miles of open water along the West Coast prohibit oil drilling, but Huffman said future administrations could amend the sanctuary regulations.

Huffman seeks to ride the anti-oil momentum stemming from the Refugio oil spill that leaked an estimated 143,000 gallons onto the Gaviota coast. Sixteen members of Congress, including Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, also co-sponsored the bill.

Huffman acknowledged that it will not likely get through the Republican-controlled Congress, but he said he is in it for the “long haul.”

“The North Coast is simply not an appropriate place for offshore oil drilling,” said bill co-sponsor Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, in a news release. “If an oil spill were to occur in this area, not only would the economic damage to businesses and tourism be staggering, the rocky shores and rough seas would make a cleanup impossible.”

Oil proponents argue that the industry’s high-paying jobs stimulate the economy and oil production’s tax revenues support public services.

Democratic lawmakers have tried to limit offshore drilling since the presidential and congressional moratoriums on drilling in federal waters expired in 2008.

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, recently introduced a bill that would ban oil drilling in state waters off the coast of Vandenberg Air Force Base in the area known as the Tranquillon Ridge.

The Senate passed SB 788 but it did not clear the Assembly, which noted potential offshore oil revenues that could range between $48 million and $173 million per year for up to 35 years.

Nonprofit to sue over river dumping

A Santa Barbara environmental nonprofit intends to sue a metal coating company that allegedly contaminated Ventura’s Santa Clara River.

The Environmental Defense Center and Keller Rohrback filed a notice letter to General Magnaplate for allegedly violating the federal Clean Water Act. Magnaplate has made reinforced parts used in the aerospace, transportation, medical, oil and other industries for more than 30 years. Its global headquarters is in Linden, N.J.

The notice letter alleges that its Ventura facility has been illegally dumping wastewater containing dangerous levels of zinc, iron and aluminum into the Santa Clara River, which the city relies on for drinking water and is also home to endangered species.

“General Magnaplate’s ongoing pollution in violation of the Clean Water Act threatens our communities, beach-goers and the numerous species that rely on this important watershed,” EDC attorney Maggie Hall said in a news release. “By notifying General Magnaplate of our intent to sue, we hope to force them to clean up their operations and protect the Santa Clara River from polluted runoff.”

According to Magnaplate’s data, the law firm alleges, the company once discharged zinc at 17 times the legal standard. The company allegedly does not adequately test its wastewater for pollutants such as ammonium, magnesium, arsenic and others, as required by its permits.

Under the Clean Water Act, potential litigants must send a 60-day notice of intent to sue before formally filing a lawsuit. The letter was sent on Oct. 13.

New hires at law firm

Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth, which has an office in Santa Barbara, recently announced that venture capital attorneys Frank Grant and Ryan Azlein joined the firm.

The attorneys will lead the expansion of its venture capital, startups and emerging companies practice groups, the firm said. They will be based in the Santa Monica office.

The law firm has more than 125 attorneys practicing in nine offices throughout California, Colorado and Nevada.

• Contact Alex Kacik at akacik@pacbiztimes.com.