California state senators are considering tougher oil spill response and offshore drilling legalization in the wake of a pipeline rupture that spilled nearly 100,000 gallons of crude near Santa Barbara earlier this year.
According to the Lompoc Record, the state senate’s Assembly Natural Resources Committee passed a bill designed to make spill responses faster and more environmentally friendly.
The committee passed Senate Bill 414, also known as the Rapid Oil Spill Response Act, by a bipartisan 8-1 vote on Monday.
The bill would establish a voluntary program that would allow local fishing vessels and crew members to take on work as paid contractors through the Office of Spill Prevention and Response so that they can immediately respond to spills.
Senate Bill 414 would also ban the use of toxic oil dispersants and would require the Office of Spill Prevention and Response to investigate and implement the best available technology to clean spilled oil.
“We know that if we’d had a more comprehensive approach to oil spill cleanup, we could have responded up to six hours sooner to the recent spill off Refugio State Beach. That would have made a real difference to our wildlife and our coastline,” Democratic state senator from Santa Barbara Hannah-Beth Jackson told the Lompoc Record.
Senate Bill 414 will now head to the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee.
The committee also passed Senate Bill 788 that aims to block offshore drilling in an area of the Santa Barbara Channel known as the Tranquillon Ridge.
In June, Santa Barbara County’s Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to support the ban, according to the the Lompoc Record.
Senate Bill 788 is now on its way to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.