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California approves legislation to protect new offshore oil development near Tranquillon Ridge

The Californian Senate has passed a new law to ban new offshore oil drilling in a nearby marine protected area in the Santa Barbara Channel known as Tranquillon Ridge.

The latest approval comes two weeks after a ruptured pipeline led to an oil spill along the Santa Barbara County coastline.

An underground pipeline running along the coastal highway at the San Refugio State Beach ruptured, flooding up to 2,500 barrels of crude petroleum into the Pacific Ocean.

In 1994, the California Legislature passed the California Coastal Sanctuary Act and banned any new offshore oil and gas leases.

"In the wake of last month's devastating oil spill, we cannot afford to wait any longer to permanently ban new oil drilling off our coast."

Tranquillon Ridge extends into state and federal waters, with a loophole in state law leaving it with reserves that are being tapped in federal waters at present from Platform Irene.

The region has sensitive marine ecosystem and was designated as a marine protected area in 2007.

Hannah-Beth Jackson said: "Tranquillon Ridge is one of the most important bio-regions on the planet. It is a place of extraordinary and wonderous diversity.

"If there's ever a place and time where we should commit to no new offshore drilling, it should be here, in this extraordinary place known as Tranquillon Ridge, and it should be now, when the consequences of oil, oil-covered birds and an oil-drenched coastline, are so fresh in our minds."

Mike McGuire said: "In the wake of last month's devastating oil spill, we cannot afford to wait any longer to permanently ban new oil drilling off our coast."

Many oil companies over the past years tried to tap into Tranquillon Ridge's offshore reserves from state waters.

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