The war between coastal governors and the Trump administration over offshore drilling escalated this weekend, as California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a pair of bills that would effectively prevent new drilling projects off the state’s coasts.
The bills would accomplish its goal by “prohibiting new leases for new construction of oil and gas-related infrastructure, such as pipelines, within state waters if the federal government authorizes any new offshore oil leases.”
Governor Brown did not mince as he signed the bill on Saturday, taking aim directly at the president. “Not here, not now,” said Governor Brown. “We will not let the federal government pillage public lands and destroy our treasured coast.”
This move shouldn’t come as a surprise to followers of California lawmakers, who have made ambitious environmental policies a cornerstone in recent years. The state has bucked Trump’s embrace of dirty energy by investing in renewable energy projects. And an ambitious bill that would see the state attempt to fill all of its electricity needs from clean sources has moved its way from the state legislature to the governor’s desk.
Since coming into power, the Trump administration has made its intention to increase offshore drilling projects very clear. At the beginning of 2018, it released a plan to open nearly all federal waters to drilling projects. And concerns over safety and environmental health have largely been tossed to the wayside, with the administration meeting almost exclusively with oil and gas industry officials when addressing issues of coastal development.
The zeal to increase offshore drilling has been met with outcry in coastal states and communities. Earlier this year, 15 coastal governors united to fight back against a five-year offshore oil and gas leasing plan. New Jersey governor Phil Murphy went a step further and signed into law a ban on drilling off the state’s shores, a move that California has now followed. Even state lawmakers within the president’s party have made their opposition known.
That’s not to say that coastal states aren’t looking to leverage their waters for energy purposes, but some are taking a greener path.
Offshore wind has been gaining traction as its costs rapidly decline. The governors of New York and New Jersey have both directed their governments to significantly increase offshore wind development in the coming decades. And studies indicate this momentum will continue in the future, as a mixture of declining costs and growing energy needs make wind projects more and more viable.