In April 2017 President Trump issued Executive Order 13795, the “America-First Offshore Energy Policy,” and initiated the process to open Federal waters to new offshore oil and gas development. A draft of the proposed 2019-2024 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program was released in January 2018. The New Draft Plan would open more than 90% of the total Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to potential new and expanded oil and gas leasing, including the Santa Barbara Channel.
What It Means Locally
New leases have not been offered for sale in federal waters off the California coast since 1984 or in state waters since the 1969 oil spill. Under the new proposed plan, lease sales would occur in the Southern California planning region (from the Mexico border to north of San Luis Obispo) in 2020 and 2022. After a public review process, lease sales would allow companies to bid on “lease blocks” (three square mile areas of ocean), with the lease going to the highest bidder as long as the bid is determined to be “fair market value.” This means that, as currently proposed, hundreds of new lease blocks in the Santa Barbara Channel may be opened to new and expanded oil and gas extraction.
There are many opportunities for the public to weigh in before oil and gas extraction would actually occur. The diagram below describes the entire process, from development of the draft National OCS Plan to permitting individual drilling projects.
The yellow star indicates where we currently fall in the process. Channelkeeper will advocate against new and expanded oil and gas leasing and development in the Santa Barbara Channel throughout this process, and will update the “Take Action” section below so you can make your voice heard as well.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is responsible for developing the National OCS Plan and permitting individual projects in Federal waters (beyond three miles from shore). More information about the proposed plan and BOEMS’s process are available here.
Check out these two recent LA Times articles that provide an analysis of what this plan could mean for California.
- Trump has big plans for offshore oil development. But will it ever happen?
Your voice is urgently needed to ensure the Santa Barbara Channel is protected from new and expanded oil development. There are two elements of the program that are currently open for public comment (due by March 9th).
- Comments on the Draft National OCS Plan are due by March 9th. You can submit comments electronically here or by mail (to Kelly Hammerle; National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program Manager; Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (VAM-LD); 45600 Woodland Road, Sterling, VA 20166-9216).
- An open house will be held in Sacramento on February 8th (3-7pm) at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria to provide more information about the plan.
- BOEM has also released a “Guide to Providing Helpful Comments”.
- In addition to sending your own comments you can also sign this petition organized by California Coastkeeper Alliance, Surfrider, and Heal the Bay.
2) The Notice of Intent to develop a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS)
- The PEIS is an environmental review document that will analyze how the proposed National OCS Plan will impact biological, physical, economic, social, and cultural resources, and will discuss alternatives and mitigation.
- Comments can highlight what should be considered and incorporated into the review
For more information on how to provide comments, visit BOEM’s website.