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Three weeks after a corroded oil pipeline ruptured and sent thousands of gallons of oil pouring into the ocean off Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County, state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, joined legislators Tuesday from coastal areas around California and Senate leader Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, to announce the creation of the Senate Select Committee on the Refugio Oil Spill, which she will chair.

The press conference was held in the Capitol.

Joining Jackson on the Select Committee will be Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, who will serve as vice-chair, and Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, and Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills.

The first hearing of the Select Committee will be held in conjunction with the Assembly Natural Resources Committee, which is chaired by Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Carpinteria. It will examine the causes, response to and impacts of the Refugio oil spill, and will be held at 2 p.m. June 26 in the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors Hearing Room, fourth floor, 105 E. Anapamu St. in Santa Barbara. It will be open to the public.

“As someone who has visited the spill site, walked the beach, seen the oil-covered rocks, and smelled the fumes, I can tell you that the destruction to wildlife and our beautiful pristine coastline has been gut-wrenching,” Jackson said. “This spill must renew our resolve to protect our magnificent coastline. We must ensure that spills are prevented to the extent humanly possible, cleaned up as quickly as they can be and avoided by preventing any further oil development off the coast and surrounding our coast. We need to get to the bottom of what caused this spill and what we can do, through legislation, to prevent spills like this from ever happening again. This is the reason we are forming this select committee and holding our first hearing in a few weeks.”

Last week, Jackson joined Williams in announcing legislation in response to the spill, which will also be principally co-authored by Williams:

The Rapid Oil Response Act, SB 414 (Jackson). This bill would help make oil spill response faster, more effective, and more environmentally friendly. Among other things, the bill would: 1) Create a voluntary program for local fishing vessels and crews to become paid contractors who can immediately respond to oil spills through the Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) 2) Pre-position two oil skimmers at all times along the Santa Barbara coastline to be ready to respond to oil spills, and 3) Place a temporary moratorium on the use of dispersants within state waters until the US EPA finalizes its policies on dispersants and OSPR completes a report to the Legislature required by this bill.

Pipelines Inspection Bill (Jackson): This bill would require annual oil pipeline inspections and would reestablish the State Fire Marshal’s role in inspecting federally regulated pipelines.

In addition, Jackson is jointly authoring SB 788 with Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, to ban new offshore oil drilling in a Marine Protected Area in the Santa Barbara Channel known as Tranquillon Ridge.

Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.

— Lisa Gardiner is the communications director for state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson.