SAN FRANCISCO -- U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will likely get an earful today during a hearing on whether the Federal moratorium on offshore oil drilling in the outer continental shelf should be restored.
The hearing at UCSF's Mission Bay Conference Center will kick off at 9 a.m. and will feature a cavalcade of California political luminaries who stand opposed to former President Bush's decision to lift the ban last year.
Aides of U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer said late Wednesday that she will testify during the hearing, as will Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, who chairs the state Lands Commission.
Currently, there are 23 oil drilling platforms in federal waters off California and four in state-controlled waters. There are close to 2,000 oil wells operating in both jurisdictions, officials said. Following the infamous and destructive 1969 Union Oil spill off Santa Barbara, most Californians remain opposed to additional oil drilling, polling shows.
Earlier this week state Assemblyman Pedro Nava was successful in getting the Assembly's Natural Resources Committee to approve a joint resolution opposing the expansion of petroleum exploration off the Golden State.
"On the eve of his visit to San Francisco, Secretary Salazar will get a clear message that California opposes expansion of oil and gas drilling off its coast, and demands that the offshore oil and gas drilling moratorium be reinstated," the Santa Barbara Democrat said in a statement released Wednesday.
"Drilling off California's coast is a bad idea," said Assemblywoman Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, who joined Nava in sponsoring the resolution. "All the oil off our coast would supply our nation with enough gas for only 17 months and would have no effect on gas prices. But it would cost us far more in lost tourism and risk another oil spill. That's a price Californians don't want to pay."
Assembly Joint Resolution 3 was passed by a 6 to 3 vote. AJR3 requests that the Congress of the United States reinstate the federal offshore oil and gas leasing moratorium for the 2009 fiscal year and beyond. The measure also memorializes the Legislature's opposition to the proposed expansion of oil and gas drilling off the Pacific Coast and any federal energy policies and legislation that would weaken California's role in energy siting decisions. The joint letter to Secretary of the Interior requests the immediate reinstatement of the federal moratorium. Nava aides said the lawmaker will deliver the letter personally during the hearing.
State Sen. Leland Yee, long an opponent of offshore oil drilling, said last summer's decision by Bush to lift the federal legislative moratorium -- in place since 1981 -- was a serious mistake that put California's ecologically-sensitive coastline at risk.
"I urge President Obama to reverse this executive order," Yee, (D-San Francisco) said. "Any additional offshore oil leasing and production would degrade the quality of our air and water, threaten endangered species, adversely impact our marine resources, and further hurt our economy. The protection of California's coastline is vital to our wildlife and our economy, especially commercial fishing and tourism, which annually contributes over $50 billion to the state's economy."
IF YOU GO:
Department of Interior Regional Meeting on Energy Development on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf
Thursday, April 16, 9:00 a.m.
Mission Bay Conference Center at UCSF
1675 Owens St., San Francisco
The hearing will be webcast: