The current presidential administration is making changes to a 1972 law that gave coastal states like California the right to stall or stop offshore drilling in federal waters. Governors of states up and down both coastlines contested a recent proposal to open all coastlines to offshore gas and oil drilling according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Coastal Zone Management Act gives coastline states a voice when it comes to industry development or federal projects that extend up to three miles off the coast of the state. The changes proposed by the administration will not change the current law but may affect how states are able to enforce it. The changes are seen as positive by the oil industry in removing barriers to the development of natural gas and oil resources.
The law was originally passed in response to the Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969 and allows states to request modifications when there is activity in federal waters. The state’s say is not final, but many have used the act to defeat projects that were seen as a threat to public health and the environment. California alone has stopped 36 oil leases in the early 2000s. Another block occurred in 2007 as state officials opposed a project designed to create a natural gas port just offshore from Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
The goal of both government and the oil industry is to find a compromise that allows for increased access to oil and gas resources without harming the environment. Many see this move as a positive step toward lowering oil prices.