Refugio Oil Spill Legislation Advances

July 15, 2015

SACRAMENTO – Just days before Refugio State Beach is expected to re-open following a devastating oil spill, two bills authored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) in response to the spill passed out of the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee. The bills would increase and improve oil pipeline inspections and make oil spill response faster and more effective.

“Since the spill, it’s become clear that there is work that we can and must do to help prevent spills and the devastation they cause,” said Jackson. “This includes ensuring that we are better prepared to respond quickly when they happen, and ensuring that we have effective, annual pipeline inspections that will detect problems before they become disasters. Refugio State Beach is set to re-open this Friday, thanks to the hard work of those involved in the clean-up efforts. Yet we cannot forget the devastation that this spill caused to our coast and our economy. Our work to ensure that spills like this don’t happen again must continue in earnest. ”

Jackson’s Senate Bill 295 requires annual oil pipeline inspections and would reestablish the State Fire Marshal’s role in inspecting federally regulated pipelines.

SB 295 passed out on a bipartisan, 18-0 vote.

Senate Bill 414, the Rapid Oil Spill Response Act, would help make oil spill response faster, more effective, and more environmentally friendly. The bill would: 1) Create a voluntary program for local fishing vessels and crews to become paid contractors who can immediately respond to oil spills through the Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) 2) Place a ban on the use of toxic dispersants for cleaning up oil spills in Marine Protected Areas and 3) Require OSPR to study the best available technology for oil spill clean-up and use that technology to respond to spills.

The bill passed out on a bipartisan, 12-0 vote.

Both bills now head to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.