In response to your story Rigs-to-Reefs Bill on Governor’s Desk: Sunken offshore oil rigs are not a scientifically proven habitat for marine life, they may leave significant contamination in the ocean from polluted shell and debris mounds, and they pose possible safety and liability issues for the State of California.
As well, artificial reef creation may cost a significant amount of resources with substantial environmental impacts on the regional ecosystem. AB 2503 Rigs-to-Reefs would allow oil platforms to be abandoned at sea instead of following existing laws requiring their complete removal. It should be rejected pending further study of the environmental and economic impacts, and the liability issues to the state.
As Ms. Linda Krop from the Environmental Defense Center noted in her group letter opposing the bill, the attempt to allow early decommissioning of wells by paying the state remediation-cost-savings from leaving the sunken behemoths on the ocean floor is not lawful. Only the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management can guarantee decommissioning federal wells, regardless of state or private compacts.
Unfortunately, she and her adherents failed to understand this very federal enforceability issue when they argued that PXP could be granted a state offshore drilling lease at Tranquillon Ridge in exchange for early decommissioning promises on four federal wells. Good thing her efforts failed in that case.