Legislation requiring oil produced in state waters to be transported via pipeline rather than barge or tanker passed the state Assembly last Thursday with a vote of 41 to 26.

Bill AB 16 was introduced by Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-35th District), in response to an April 27 oil spill in Buzzards Bay, Mass. A barge carrying more than 4 million gallons of oil hit an unknown obstruction in the bay, leaking 15,000 gallons into the water. The slick resulting from the spill stretched for 13 miles.

The bill does not impact existing drilling operations, but requires new or expanded ones to use pipelines, not barges, to transport oil. Pipeline transportation is considered by scientists and environmentalists to be safer than tankers because pipelines can be shut off if a leak occurs.

“This measure is necessary to protect California’s coast from the potential of a devastating oil spill that could destroy our local economy,” Jackson said. “There have been numerous spills in different parts of the world that have had devastating impacts on the local economy, the fishing industry, tourism and the environment. We must do what can be done to prevent such a disaster off the Central Coast.”

Currently, Venoco is the only company drilling off the California coast that does not use pipelines to transport oil from the offshore platform to shore refinery.