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Huntington Beach council votes in favor of ban on new offshore drilling

The Hill logo The Hill 10/21/2021 Olafimihan Oshin
a group of people on a beach: Huntington Beach council votes in favor of ban on new offshore drilling © Getty Huntington Beach council votes in favor of ban on new offshore drilling

Huntington Beach City Council voted in favor of an item on Tuesday that would ban new offshore drilling off its coast following an oil spill in nearby waters earlier this month.

The item was brought forward by Huntington Beach, Calif. Mayor Kim Carr, and council member Natalie Moser, according to The Los Angeles Times. It was supported by Mayor Pro Tem Barbara Delgleize and council members Rhonda Bolton and Dan Karmic.

Mike Posey, another member of the city council, was the only one to vote against the measure. Council member Erick Peterson was absent from the vote.

The vote for a ban on any new offshore drilling comes after an underwater oil spill off the coast of Southern California spewed an estimated 25,000 gallons of crude oil into ocean water. The spill came from an underwater pipeline connected to an offshore drilling company called Elly.

Elly and the pipeline are operated by Beta Offshore Operating Co., which is a subsidiary of Amplify Energy.

The spill is believed to be caused by a ship's anchor that damaged the pipeline.

Since then, there have been movements in the state to ban offshore drilling. Notably, actress and activist Jane Fonda joined California state lawmakers earlier this month to call for an end to all offshore drilling.

Huntington Beach spokesperson Jennifer Carey noted that the city makes $632,000 yearly in oil license taxes and pipeline franchise fees, which is one percent less than the city's general federal budget, according to the Times.

Carr emphasized that another spill could happen again.

"Fortunately, the oil spill was a lot less than [a previous high-end estimate of 144,000 gallons], but it was still thousands of gallons that reached our shoreline," Carr said, according to the Times. "In a lot of ways, we dodged a bullet with this one, but we can't be naïve and think this won't happen again."

Posey argued that the city does not have the ability to regulate the waters on its coast.

"I think as [renewable energy] technology evolves, the demand for fossil fuels will decline all on its own, driven by the marketplace," Posey said. "I'm also concerned with acknowledging in a resolution economic impacts and putting that in writing, with the threat of potential litigation."

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