Trump's directive on offshore drilling will face solid resistance in California

President Trump painted a golden future of “great wealth” and “great jobs” powered by oil pumped from the ocean floor as he signed an executive order on Friday to consider new offshore drilling around the country.

But his efforts could splash harmlessly against the hardened barricades that California has been fortifying for decades with regulation and legislation to prevent additional drilling along its treasured coast.

Even the faintest possibility of new oil operations prompted an immediate backlash in the state as environmentalists feared ecological disaster, surfers warned of soiled beaches and politicians promised new measures to block any development.

At a time when California is forging ahead with ambitious policies on climate change and renewable energy, the mere suggestion of additional derricks dotting the horizon was met with revulsion from the state’s leaders, and it brought unwelcome reminders of the coast’s painful history with oil spills.

“We will fight to the end,” said Susan Jordan, executive director of the California Coastal Protection Network, an environmental group. “They will not get any new oil on these shores."

Although the oil industry praised Trump’s executive order, there appeared to be little enthusiasm for new drilling along California’s coast. With the price per barrel below $50, expensive offshore operations may not be cost-effective, especially in a region with steep regulatory hurdles.

Most notably, even if the Trump administration awarded a new lease for drilling in federal waters, getting the oil ashore would be nearly impossible without a pipeline. State leaders pledged to stand in the way, and attempts at new developments could face endless litigation.

“I’m not worried about seeing oil derricks out there any time soon,” said Deborah A. Sivas, director of Stanford University's Environmental Law Clinic. “There are a lot of roadblocks.”

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