As gas prices continue their upward creep, House Republicans are using the price hike as an excuse to try to open more coastal areas to drilling, including untouched areas off the Southern California Coast.
One of the bills introduced would force the Interior Department to lease tracts in the next five years, not only off our coast, but off the east coast and Alaska, a hazardous Arctic environment where the potential for ecological disaster is worse than it was off Louisiana.
It’s hard to believe that it hasn’t even been a year since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 men and creating the biggest oil spill in American history.
I recently had dinner with a friend who lives in Ventura. He boasted that his new place was right on the water and invited my girlfriend and me to join him and his wife for sunset cocktails on his deck. It was an experience to see the sun dip below the waves, cradled by the twinkling oil rigs off his beach. Is that the kind of sight we want extended along our coast?
Offshore oil drilling has been contentious in California ever since a 1969 spill fouled the Santa Barbara coast. Under terms of the new bill, Californians would have no choice but to allow wells off our coast. The Republican measure is shortsighted and flies the face of any Republican rhetoric to the contrary supporting states’ rights.
Gas prices are rising because of instability in the Middle East and a shortage of local refining capacity. Selling leases today won't drive down prices for years, if ever. In a report released Tuesday the Obama Administration showed the that 70 percent of the offshore leases already held in the Gulf of Mexico are not being developed. There is no need for more offshore drilling here.
In reacting to the Republican proposal Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) said, "We learned the hard way how much environmental and economic damage can be caused by a major oil spill, and can’t afford another spill or accident. California is looking forward to a 21st century energy policy, not backwards, and House Republicans should do the same.''