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Williams Calls for Moratorium on Offshore Oil Leasing

He also supports reopening Santa Barbara County's inspections office

In the wake of the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Santa Barbara councilman and Assembly candidate Das Williams called Thursday for an immediate moratorium on all offshore oil leasing, as well as the reopening of a Minerals Management Service field office in Santa Barbara County.

The MMS Inspection Office is the federal entity responsible for inspecting the 20 offshore oil and gas platforms in the Santa Barbara Channel. In 2005, MMS cut back inspection programs by closing a regional office in Santa Maria. The closure of the office has drastically reduced the frequency of inspections at offshore oil and gas platforms in Santa Barbara.

“We cannot allow a disaster like that of the Gulf of Mexico off our coast,” Williams said. “It is becoming increasingly clear that negligence by oil companies operating the Deepwater Horizon helped cause this spill. As long as offshore drilling exists, we need to make sure that drilling operations off our coast are held to the highest safety standards and fully comply with all environmental regulations.”

Williams has long been a leader in regional efforts to end oil drilling. In 2008, he helped lead the effort by the city of Santa Barbara to officially support a moratorium on new offshore oil and gas leasing. As a top aide to former Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson, Williams helped write landmark legislation that prohibited the practice of transporting oil from offshore platforms by oil tankers — a measure to reduce the risk of an oil spill.

“These oil companies must be held accountable,” Williams said. “Offshore drilling operations near our coast should not be allowed to continue without the maximum level of oversight. ... Until we achieve that goal it is absolutely critical that everything possible is done to reduce the threat of spills.

“Today, I am calling for a moratorium on new leasing and for the MMS to immediately reopen its inspection field office in Santa Barbara County and begin conducting inspections to ensure oil companies are adhering to all regulatory requirements, including employing trained personnel and taking extra steps to enhance the safety of operations to protect the coastal environment.”

Williams also expressed his support for Rep. Lois Capps’ California Ocean and Coastal Protection Act, House Resolution 1906, which would ban new exploration and drilling for oil and gas off the California coast. Williams further supports the West Coast Ocean Protection Act, a Senate bill that would ban new exploration and drilling along the West Coast.

— Christopher Patterson represents the Das Williams campaign for Assembly District 35.


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