- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 2, 2015

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Two California legislators Tuesday said they want to increase the frequency of pipeline inspections after a break near Santa Barbara two weeks ago blackened beaches with crude oil and created a 9-mile slick in the Pacific.

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson of Santa Barbara and Assemblyman Das Williams of Carpinteria, both Democrats, sketched out plans for a cluster of bills in response to the May 19 spill in which up to 101,000 gallons of oil escaped. An estimated 21,000 gallons reached the ocean.

They said the proposals, to be introduced shortly in Sacramento, would improve safety and quicken responses when spills occur. Jackson suggested additional pipe inspections might have revealed problems with the line that ruptured last month.

Jackson wants inspections conducted each year and to give the state fire marshal a role in inspecting federally regulated, interstate pipelines that run into California. The spill occurred on a line that been inspected in 2012 and earlier this year, though the 2015 results are not yet available.

A second bill would create a voluntary program for local fishing boats and crews to allow them to become paid contractors to respond to oil spills, under the supervision of the state. It would also bring two vessels equipped to skim oil from the ocean to the Santa Barbara area. Boats used in the early stages of last month’s spill came from the Los Angeles area.

Williams will propose a bill that would require pipelines in environmentally sensitive areas along the coast to use cutting-edge technology to reduce the amount of oil released in a spill, including automatic shut-off equipment. The pipeline that leaked near Santa Barbara was the only pipe of its kind in the county not required to have an automatic shut-off valve, because of a court fight nearly three decades ago.

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