Tag Archives: environmentalism

Yes We Can Stop what the LA Times Calls “a Dubious Deal on Offshore Oil Drilling”

At a hearing last week of the California State Lands Commission, which I chair, we passed a resolution critical of an effort to bypass our independent jurisdiction in approving new oil drilling proposals.

An editorial in last weekend’s Los Angeles Times buttresses my position and explains what’s at stake:

“[In late January,] the Lands Commission rightly rejected the plan on a 2-1 vote, and that should have been the end of it. […]

Admittedly, the state could use the money. But that’s not a good enough reason to subvert the authority of the Lands Commission, sell California’s coastline in exchange for empty promises, ignore the wishes of Santa Barbara residents and dismiss the outcome of a long process of analysis and public hearings. The Lands Commission, in fact, was created in 1938 to bring more transparency to the awarding of oil leases after a scandal involving the Department of Finance.”

National and state implications over the flip…

The precedent set by allowing this “dubious deal” to move forward also has dangerous national implications. In comments to a post I wrote last week on the Daily Kos, Linnaeus said something that I think is worth repeating:

“I’m not a Californian, but these resources are treasures for us all. In case I wasn’t clear, yes, protect the coastline.” (minor edits for formatting)

What happens in California has a habit of spreading to other states, and if the proposal moves forward, the Golden State will be on record in support of offshore oil drilling and in favor of bypassing decades-established environmental regulations when Big Oil comes knocking with a quick buck. That’s not a precedent that’s healthy for California’s fragile natural wonders, and it can only serve to undermine environmental protection efforts in other states too.

In a wall post in the Facebook group created in opposition to the Department of Finance proposal, Assemblymember Pedro Nava, a member of the Assembly Coastal Caucus, explains what he expects will happen if the oil lease moves forward:

“We can’t forget this important fact. The Secretary of the Interior is right now evaluating off shore oil lease plans for California. If the PXP deal is approved through the budget, it will mean that the coast of California is for sale and decades of hard work to protect our coast will be compromised. The impacts will be first felt in Santa Barbara and then spread like an oil spill north to Mendocino and south to San Diego. We have worked too hard for too long to allow this to happen.”

And Brian Leubitz on Calitics wrote today of the potential environmental impact of the Department of Finance’s proposal. His words are worth repeating:

“California was, once upon a time, the leader in offshore drilling. In fact, the first submerged oil wells was in the Santa Barbara Channel. Public acceptance can change rapidly when you spill 200,000 gallons of crude oil into the ocean. And change it did.

In many ways, that day in 1969 was the time when the environmental movement came of age.  It had a real, tangible event to show the world of how quickly we can turn a once beautiful strip of coast into a toxic mess. […]

Drill, Baby, Drill is a recipe for disaster in both good and bad economic times. We should not be compromising our goals of a clean and sustainable energy future for a few hundred million dollars.  I’ll be working to provide more depth on this issue, but in the mean time, consider emailing your legislator or joining John Garamendi’s facebook group to support the State Lands Commission’s position against drilling. We simply cannot afford another to turn our backs on 1969, the devastating consequences of a spill are just not worth the price.”

I’m not prepared to see decades of environmental safeguards undermined, and I don’t think you are either. The impact goes far beyond a single oil lease off the coast of Santa Barbara; at stake is a precedent-setting showdown on the legitimacy of environmental protection in the country’s most trendsetting state. We must not catch a wave toward environmental ruin.  

Please, if you live in California, call and e-mail your state legislators and voice your opposition to this deal. They are expected to vote on the issue in a few weeks. And no matter where you live, join our Facebook group and invite your friends. We’ve made good progress in the past week, and with your help, yes we can stop “a dubious deal on offshore oil drilling.”

John Garamendi is the Lieutenant Governor of California, chair of the California State Lands Commission, and a former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Interior Department. He also sits on the Ocean Protection Council and is the founder of the Clean Seas Coalition.

Environmental policy tidbits…

I don’t know how many people picked up on this, but there was a tidbit in Obama’s speech that may be important, and I’m hoping somebody will ask him to expand on it (and I plan to dig through his website later to see if there’s more info)…

He said that he would launch a carbon cap-and-trade system, and that he would auction off the credits.  One of the big arguments in regard to cap-and-trade, is whether to allow businesses that currently emit to start off in the system holding credits — “grandfathering” them in.  (This is tied up with Bush administration’s efforts to make expanding an existing dirty business not trigger “new source review”.)  If folks know that in a year or two they’re going to have to bid in an auction for the right to continue their current businesses, we’re going to see much faster reductions in CO2 emissions.

In other global-warming news, Chris Dodd came out foursquare in favor of a carbon tax.  I guess an advantage of having no chance, is you can say things like that…