January 30, 2009

California rejects offshore oil deal

California's Land Commission said no to an offshore oil drilling deal saying it would open the door for further offshore development.

Environmental groups and the Plains Exploration and Production company had drafted a plan in which the company would shut down four offshore drilling platforms in 13 years in exchange for permission to open the first offshore well in California since 1969, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, a member of land panel, said approving the deal would have sent a message very, very clearly by those who call for 'drill, baby, drill.'

Environmental Defense Center attorney Linda Krop said the agreement would have marked the first time the public was able to force closure of an operating oil platform. Without the deal, they'll continue indefinitely -- perhaps another 40 years, she said.

Garamendi and state Controller John Chiang, voted against the deal. Tom Sheehy, deputy director of the California Department of Finance voted for it, citing increased oil royalty revenues.

The vote was taken a day after the 40th anniversary of a famous oil spill that ravaged the California shoreline around Santa Barbara that triggered a tough stance on new drilling.