Baykeeper Update

Victory! Governor Signs Three Bills to Protect the Bay and California Coast from Oil Spills

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed three bills that will help protect San Francisco Bay and all California coastal waters from oil spills.

Baykeeper advocated for all three bills, joining with California Coastkeeper Alliance, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, Environmental Defense Center, and many other environmental organizations statewide. The bills were introduced in the California legislature in the wake of the devastating May 19 oil spill in Santa Barbara, when over 100,000 gallons of oil leaked from a pipeline. The oil fouled Refugio State Beach and other scenic beaches, and also harmed fish and other wildlife.

The Bay Area has a network of similar pipelines, and these three bills will increase protections for San Francisco Bay.

AB 864 requires the state fire marshal's office to make sure oil pipelines in scenic areas are using the latest technology to avoid spills, including automatic shutoff valves and leak detectors. Putting the best technology in place will reduce the amount of oil released if a pipeline leaks or breaks, and provide greater protections for state waters and wildlife.

SB 295 requires the state fire marshal's office to annually inspect all oil pipelines under its jurisdiction. The spill in Santa Barbara was from a pipeline that was inspected every two years; yearly inspections will make it more likely that corroded pipes will be discovered before they leak and cause damage.

SB 414 improves state government agencies’ response to oil spills in order to speed containment and cleanup. The legislation also increases penalties for people who cause oil spills.

These bills provide important protections, but there is still a risk of oil spills in San Francisco Bay. Baykeeper will keep up our action to achieve the best possible protections for the Bay from oil spills, and the most effective response if a spill occurs.