Citing BP oil spill, Schwarzenegger drops offshore drilling plan
Citing the BP oil spill, Schwarzenegger said Monday he could no longer back a California offshore drilling initiative. He also vetoed a bill that sought to ban smoking at state parks and beaches.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger withdrew support Monday for a plan he had championed to allow new offshore drilling off Santa Barbara County for the first time since 1969. The decision is being received with sighs of relief by environmental groups as well as cries of “foul” amidst the state’s need for jobs and revenue. Some see hypocrisy in the move, while others have applauded Governor Schwarzenegger's new independence.Skip to next paragraph
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Citing the disastrous BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Schwarzenegger – who had just last Friday defended the proposed Santa Barbara project – said the images from the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill on the Gulf Coast changed his mind. "I see on TV the birds drenched in oil, the fishermen out of work, the massive oil spill and oil slick destroying our precious ecosystem,” he said at a news conference Monday. “That will not happen here in California, and this is why I am withdrawing my support for the T-Ridge project."
The governor had previously argued that the state, which is facing a $20 billion budget shortfall, should approve the plan to raise as much as $100 million a year in new revenue.
Criticism of Schwarzenegger's reversal came quickly from those who say accidents should not drive public policy.
“The US is not going to become any less dependent on fossil fuels because of this horrible accident,” says Barbara Shook, Houston bureau chief for Energy Intelligence Group. “As long as Californians drive automobiles, they will have to have oil from somewhere. Do they want it from California where it will generate local jobs and revenues, or ... from Indonesia or the Middle East where sources are unreliable?”
The space program was not abandoned because of the shuttle explosion, says Ms. Shook, and people do not stop flying because of airline crashes, she reminds. Oil is still needed to lubricate even the windmill farms approved recently off Massachusetts, she says.
But environmental groups are standing up to applaud the governor's decision.