Friday, August 12, 2005

Coastal Commission nixes offshore drilling

Oil supplies may not be keeping up with demand, but the California Coastal Commission doesn't care.

The California Coastal Commission went head-to-head with the federal government over offshore oil drilling Thursday, voting unanimously to reject a U.S. agency's plan to extend 36 petroleum and natural gas leases situated off three south and central state counties.

The nine commissioners cited potential risk to the state's marine environment and wildlife as the driving reason for their decision, made during a meeting in Costa Mesa (Orange County).

The commission's move puts the state of California squarely in opposition to the federal government over offshore oil development. At this point, the Bush administration could move ahead to renew the leases without the commission's imprimatur, but such a move probably would prompt a new round of litigation initiated by the state.