Arnold Schwarzenegger Abandons Tranquillon Ridge

Is the Tranquillon Ridge offshore drilling proposal dead? That’s the word coming out of Sacramento today as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger told reporters that he will no longer support the project. From KQED’s John Myers, who has really established himself as one of the state’s leading reporters, going from moderating the Whitman/Poizner debate last night to being the first to report on this scoop via Twitter:

Big news. Schwarzenegger officially removes support for Tranquillon Ridge oil drilling project..based, he says, on Gulf oil spill.

Schwarzenegger says of Gulf spill: “That will not happen in CA.” His rejection of T-Ridge probably kills the project.

Schwarzenegger’s rejection of the T-Ridge oil project also means an extra hole – $200 mil – in the #cabudget that he’ll need 2 fill.

“Why would we want to take that risk?” Schwarzenegger says in response 2 reporter’s question about abandoning T-Ridge oil project.

Similarly, Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado told his Assembly confirmation hearing he wasn’t likely to support Tranquillon Ridge. A spill there would have devastated much of his former State Senate district’s coastline. Maldonado now has a seat on the State Lands Commission, and now that he’s joined by his BFF Arnold in opposing T-Ridge, it’s very unlikely the proposal will go anywhere anytime soon.

But is John Meyers right – is T-Ridge dead? Meg Whitman has supported offshore drilling recently, but with the Louisiana spill she might be joining Arnold in reconsidering that support.

It remains to be seen whether PXP, the Texas oil company backing Tranquillon Ridge, will abandon their plans. It also remains to be seen whether EDC, the Santa Barbara environmental group that has controversially agreed to back the Tranquillon Ridge project, is reconsidering their stance in light of the Gulf disaster that has already brought back memories of the 1969 spill in Santa Barbara.

It’s obvious now that the offshore drilling bubble of public support has burst, and not a moment too soon. Offshore drilling was always an unusually bad idea, a destructive way to avoid the need to develop alternative, renewable, clean energy to power economic recovery and prosperity in the 21st century. Let’s hope Arnold’s abandonment of support for T-Ridge means the proposal finally dies.

UPDATE: The Sacramento Bee has some good quotes from Arnold:

“I think that first of all, it’s clear that we have to make up that $100 million a year that we (would) make from that,” he said. “But if I have a choice between the $100 million and what I see in the Gulf of Mexico, I’d rather just figure out how to make up for that $100 million.”…

“I think that we all go through the endless amount of studies and research and everything, and before you make a decision like that, you are convinced that this will be safe,” the governor added. “But then again, you know, you see that, you turn on television and see this enormous disaster and you say to yourself, why would we want to take that risk?”

It’s one of those rare, rare moments, but Arnold is absolutely right. Why on earth would California want to take this risk? Offshore oil drilling is a dangerous and now obsolete practice that belongs in the past. We need to hold a firm line against it and ensure that existing rigs come down as soon as possible.