California seeks permanent ban on oil, gas prospecting

California Governor Jerry Brown is heading to China for a high-profile visit largely centered on environmental issues (AFP Photo/SAUL LOEB) (AFP/File)

Los Angeles (AFP) - California Governor Jerry Brown has urged US President Barack Obama to ban oil and gas drilling off the state's coast to protect the oceans and fight global warming.

Moving swiftly before President-elect Donald Trump takes office, Brown asked the government to use its authority to permanently remove federal waters off the coast of California from areas subject to future oil and gas drilling permits.

"Clearly, large new oil and gas reserves would be inconsistent with our overriding imperative to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and combat the devastating impacts of climate change," Brown wrote a letter released by his office.

"Now is the time to make permanent the protection of our ocean waters and beaches," urged Brown, who has been a proponent of many forward-looking environmental policies in the most populous US state.

The governor also said he had signed an agreement with US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to increase the production of renewable energy, "including offshore wind or waves."

Obama has just over a month left in the White House before he hands over the job to Trump.

The developer-turned-reality TV star-turned-politician is unlikely to preserve Obama's pro-environment legacy, having pledged to remove barriers to energy production in the United States and offshore.

Trump has also called global warming a "hoax" and his pick for the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Priott, is a known climate change skeptic who has battled the agency he is tapped to lead.

ExxonMobil chief Rex Tillerson is Trump's nominee for secretary of state.

And US media reported late Tuesday that Trump has chosen Republican lawmaker Ryan Zinke, 55, to serve as Interior Secretary.

A former Navy SEAL, Zinke campaigned for his House seat on a platform of achieving North American energy independence.