Calif.’s Failed First Plan To Stop Offshore Drilling Casts Shadow Today

"SACRAMENTO — Offshore oil derricks dotting the California coastline continue pumping despite a history of catastrophic spills and vows from generations of politicians to send them to the scrapheap. They’ve even survived a modest attempt by state officials more than a decade ago to offer incentives to oil companies that chose to abandon their costly operations.

Now, the failure of California’s “Rigs to Reefs” program, an effort to transform oil platforms into underwater artificial reefs, stands as a cautionary tale to those who have called for a drilling ban after thousands of gallons of crude washed ashore in Orange County in October.

“The question that we’ve been grappling with is how do we minimize risks to taxpayers and maximize the speed with which we can get these things gone,” said state Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys). “No one wants to deal with the oil companies, but the reality of the situation is you’re gonna have to create a structure that works for everybody. Otherwise, we’re going to continually be in this situation and there will be another spill.”

Fed by concerns from some environmental advocates and a skepticism about the motives of California’s billion-dollar oil industry, the Rigs to Reefs program that passed in 2010 was so complicated by political compromise that the permitting process became almost unworkable, Hertzberg said."

Phil Willon reports for the Los Angeles Times November 29, 2021.

Source: LA Times, 11/30/2021