ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. — California State Sen. Dave Min’s Senate Bill 953 passed the committee on Natural Resources and Water Tuesday, bringing a ban to offshore drilling in state waters one step closer.

What You Need To Know

  • California State Sen. Dave Min, D-Irvine, submitted a bill, SB 953, to halt oil drilling in state waters

  • The bill passed the committee on Natural Resources and Water Tuesday, and next heads to the Appropriations Committee

  • Critics say a decrease in domestic production increases dependence on foreign oil

  • Min insists the bill, which targets three oil rigs, won't impact oil prices

The bill comes after about 25,000 gallons of crude oil spilled off the Orange County coast in October 2021, impacting cities including Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach.

“Those rigs are an omnipresent threat to what we all agree is a valuable, cherished coastline,” said the state senator, who represents District 37.

The bill would impact three oil rigs, Min added, and won’t halt any oil drilling for at least a year and a half. Critics have pointed to the huge spike in oil prices as a drawback of halting any oil production. Gov. Gavin Newsom has even held back from commenting on the bill.

“We’re talking about a very, very small amount of oil. You can get rid of it, and it won’t affect oil prices even a cent,” Min said.

The primary concern is the safety of the coastline, Min noted, adding that the aging oil rigs haven’t received substantial infrastructure upgrades in decades. But the recent spill was found to have been caused by an anchor from an idle barge. The spill shut down beaches, events and hurt the local fishing economy.

Advocates see passage of the bill as an essential step toward securing a safer coastline.

“The only way to prevent more oil-related disasters like the one we experienced in October of 2021 is to transition off of fossil fuels as quickly as possible,” said Victoria Rome, Natural Resources Defense Council director of California Government Affairs, in a release. “SB 953 allows for negotiations with the industry on how to voluntarily relinquish their state leases. If an agreement can’t be reached, the bill requires termination of those leases with fair compensation provided to the leaseholders.”

The bill next heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee.