Governor Signs Jackson Refugio Oil Spill and Climate Change

Dec 11, 2015

Governor Signs Jackson Refugio Oil Spill and Climate Change Legislation

October 08, 2015

SACRAMENTO – Two bills authored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) that arose in response to this year’s Refugio Oil Spill in Santa Barbara County have just been signed by Governor Jerry Brown. They would require more frequent oil pipeline inspections and improve oil spill response. In addition, the Governor has just signed a third Jackson bill dealing with environmental issues, Senate Bill 379, which would require cities and counties to plan for how they will adapt to the impacts of climate change – such as sea-level rise, fires, flood and drought – in their general plans beginning in 2017.

Jackson said, “These two key oil spill bills arose out of the devastation caused by the Refugio Oil Spill this year in my community and the very serious threat it posed to our wildlife and economy. I do believe that if the pipeline that ruptured and caused the spill had been inspected annually, the corrosion would have been detected and we would have been able to prevent this spill. This legislation represents a very important step forward for our environment and our beautiful and economically vital coastline.”

Jackson’s Senate Bill 295 requires annual oil pipeline inspections by the State Fire Marshal. Previously, pipeline inspections had been done every two or more years.

Jackson’s Senate Bill 414, the Rapid Oil Response Act, seeks to make oil spill response faster and more effective. This bill: 1) Directs the Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) to report to the Legislature on how to best utilize commercial fishing vessels and crews in response to an oil spill 2) Requires OSPR to notify the Legislature within three days if dispersants are used in response to an oil spill. It also requires a follow-up study on negative impacts that the use of dispersants have had, and 3) Requires OSPR to study the best achievable technology for oil spill clean-up and use that technology to respond to spills, among other things.

The Governor, in his signing statement for these bills, wrote, “The devastating effects from the oil spill this year in Santa Barbara county impacted birds, mammals and other marine life, and caused the closure of beaches and fishing resulting in economic losses. Our coastline and surrounding environments contribute to the great and unique landscape of California. These bills improve planning for and prevention of oil spills and our response when spills occur.”

Jackson’s third environmental bill, SB 379, focuses on adapting and preparing for the impacts of climate change in the safety elements of general plans. California has become the national leader on efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but much work still needs to be done at the state, regional, and local levels to adapt to the effects of climate change that are already occurring. While some cities and counties have been proactive in addressing climate change adaptation in their local planning efforts, many have not. 

“California became a national leader on tackling and mitigating climate change with the passage and signing of SB 350 this week. In addition to our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we must also prepare for the potentially devastating impacts that climate change will cause in our communities. Senate Bill 379 will help protect and prepare communities around the state – particularly coastal communities like my own – as we continue to experience the impacts of climate change, such as drought and sea-level rise.”

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

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