The letter describes offshore drilling as unpopular, dirty, and the potential source of "catastrophic harm".
The Sacramento protest, which included a giant blow-up whale carrying a banner reading "Protect Our Ocean, No Offshore Drilling", preceded a formal hearing by Trump administration officials about the plan to open the Pacific and other US oceans to offshore drilling for the first time in more than 30 years. It goes on to say that any newly extracted oil won't be allowed to pass over the state.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke wants to open almost all US coastlines to offshore oil and gas drilling.
If disagreements between the state and the feds persist, both parties can seek recourse through the U.S. Commerce Department and ultimately the federal courts. Zinke has promised to meet with other governors as well, but has not yet said if he will also grant exemptions to their states.
California officials said on Wednesday the state would block transport of such petroleum through its waters.
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The letter also criticized the agency for holding just one public meeting in California, the most populous US state with about 40 million residents. "Whether it's our oceans or our lands, we don't need more oil drilling".
Whether it even gets to that point remains an open question because another powerful state agency, the California Coastal Commission, also opposes the drilling plan.
"We love our attractive beaches in California, and the last thing we want are more oil spills and more dead wildlife", Sakashita said.
The Coastal Zone Management Act mandates the federal government consult with affected states when authorizing any type of economic activity in federal managed waters, including the exploration and development of oil and gas.
It still ranks as the third worst oil spill in United States history, ranking behind the Deepwater Horizon and Exxon Valdez oil spills. That letter, which was provided to BuzzFeed News, argues that "virtually all of California's coastal economy and valuable coastal resources would be at significant risk under this program".
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While California ultimately lost the suit, it led to changes in federal law that gave states greater leverage as it pertains to offshore leasing decisions.
The U.S. Department of the Interior has scheduled only one public meeting on the matter in California, from 3 to 7 p.m., Thursday, at the main library in Sacramento.
"Secretary Zinke looks forward to meeting with more Governors and other coastal representatives who want to discuss the draft program", spokeswoman Heather Swift said by email, adding the bureau "has planned 23 public meetings, in our coastal states, to secure feedback directly from citizens".
Dayna Bochco, the chair of the coastal commission, said in a statement to BuzzFeed News that "nothing galvanizes bi-partisan resistance in California like the threat of more offshore oil drilling".
In California, the coastal commission is the agency responsible for analyzing and consummating any such agreement, Dettmer said.
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