Below is the text of a letter from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to the California Congressional Delegation restating his opposition to efforts to end or weaken the federal moratorium on oil and gas leasing off the coast of California:
May 10, 2006
California Congressional Delegation
US House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear California Congressional Delegation,
I strongly oppose any efforts to end or weaken the federal moratorium on oil and gas leasing off the coast of California and I will fight any effort to expand offshore drilling as long as I am Governor. This current movement to lift the ban is nothing more than a weak attempt to cater to oil interests in the face of high gasoline prices. I encourage you to move your focus instead to reducing our consumption of fossil fuels and supporting the development of alternative fuels such as ethanol in order to diversify our energy portfolio.
The moratorium has been in place for twenty-five years and enjoys widespread support from the people of California, including bipartisan support from elected leaders. It has been widely recognized by an overwhelming majority of Californians that there are better ways to address our energy needs without populating our waters with oil platforms and adding additional scars to our beautiful coastline.
The actions taken today by the House Appropriations Committee is extremely disappointing. As a result, the federal FY07 Interior Appropriations bill that you will be asked to vote on as early as next weekend the twenty-five-year bipartisan Congressional moratorium and the protection it guarantees Californias coast. Moreover, the bill’s provisions would allow drilling to begin just three miles from our coast. Rather than watching the sunset on the western horizon each day, millions of Californians and visitors will now see grotesque oil platforms in plain sight. I urge the Delegation to oppose these provisions and work to defeat them during the House debate. Californias beautiful coastline is an integral part of our culture, our heritage, and our economy. Putting it at risk would be an absolute travesty.
The price of gasoline has risen dramatically in California, but reducing our use of fossil fuels and diversifying our energy supply would have a much greater and more direct impact on prices than drilling offshore. California has gone to great lengths to do just this. We have dedicated $6.5 million to the Hydrogen Highway initiative to build hydrogen fueling stations and expand research for cleaner, reliable fuels; we have implemented new car standards that will reduce emissions by thirty percent in the next ten years, cutting ozone-forming pollutions by five tons per day by 2020; we have invested $165 million to get gross polluters off of Californias streets; and finally, we have created incentives to reduce gasoline consumption by making more people eligible to receive $1,000 when they turn in gross-polluting, inefficient vehicles. California leads the nation on these initiatives.
Ending or weakening the current moratorium on offshore oil and gas leasing will not result in reduced prices for consumers nor is it the foundation for a sustainable energy policy. I urge your support for renewing the OCS moratorium and your continued support for Californias economy and coastal environment.
Yesterday, Gov. Schwarzenegger issued the following statement after the House Appropriations Committee passed a proposal to lift the ban on offshore drilling along Californias coastline:
“The action taken by Congress today is irresponsible and totally unacceptable. As Governor of California, I will do everything in my power to fight the federal government on this issue and prevent any new offshore drilling.
“I will continue working with the California Congressional Delegation to urge the defeat of any changes to the existing ban on offshore drilling. I will also work to get the federal government to buy out the existing federal leases.
“Our ocean, beaches, and the coastline is critical to the entire state and every single Californian. I am unwilling to put our environment at risk for the sake of new energy exploration on Californias coast.
“I recognize that California and the nation suffer from high energy prices, but we must focus on reducing our demand and diversifying our energy portfolio rather than destroying our coastal areas. In addition to encouraging Californians to conserve energy in their daily lives, we recently passed the most aggressive energy efficiency measures in the nation, and utilities in California will commit $2 billion towards energy efficiency programs which will result in $5 billion worth of energy savings for both residential and business customers.
“To reduce our dependence on petroleum fuels, we must diversify our sources of energy. In California, we are aggressively promoting the use of renewable energy by pioneering advances in hydrogen technology, solar power, and biofuels. I have also called for Californias utilities to acquire 20 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2010 and 33 percent by 2020.”