Commission urges continuation of federal offshore oil & gas leasing moratorium

SACRAMENTO — The California State Lands Commission today adopted a resolution urging the Congress and the President to maintain the existing federal offshore California oil and gas leasing moratorium that was first established more than twenty years ago.

The Commission took this action following the House Resources Committee adoption of a post-hurricane Katrina energy bill, the National Energy Supply Diversification and Disruption Prevention Act, on September 28, 2005, that included an amendment offered by Representatives John Peterson (R-PA) and Neil Abercombie (D-Hawaii) lifting the offshore ban for natural gas drilling and modifying provisions that would allow states to “opt out” of offshore oil and gas leasing. The Commission is also troubled by the Department of the Interior’s issuance of a Notice calling for comments on a new, 2007-2012 OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program that includes consideration of the offshore California areas subject to the federal OCS leasing moratorium. In addition, the Commission is concerned that the Congress could attempt to lift the oil and gas leasing moratorium by inserting language in the annual budget reconciliation bill.

“The health of our fragile ocean ecosystem and California’s tourist industry rely on the continuation of the oil and gas leasing moratorium,” said California Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante, who chairs the commission and also sits on the California Ocean Protection Council. “Permanent environmental protections must be retained to improve and protect California’s ocean and coastal resources.”

In addition, the Commission encouraged the Congress to explore options to increase energy independence and reduce reliance on foreign oil by improving energy efficiency, improving vehicle fuel efficiency, increasing research into renewable energy and alternative fuels and fully funding energy conservation and efficiency.

“California’s coastal communities account for 86 percent of our economy, making offshore drilling a threat to our beaches and California’s livelihood,” said California Controller and Lands Commissioner Steve Westly. “The federal government needs to focus on clean energy sources and conservation, not more drilling.”

Michael C. Genest, Acting California Finance Director and the Governor’s representative on the Commission stated, “Governor Schwarzenegger is strongly opposed to any new oil and gas leasing off California and any efforts to weaken the right of California, or other states, to protect their coastlines. This resolution will make clear to the Congress and the Administration that the Governor’s position continues to be California’s clear policy.”

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Stephen Green | 916.445.9053
Office of the Lieutenant Governor

Russ Lopez | 916.207.9094
Office of the State Controller

H.D. Palmer | 916.445.4141
Department of Finance