Schwarzenegger reverses course on off-shore drilling
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, citing the damage caused to the environment by the massive oil spill in the Gulf Coast, said Monday he is yanking from his state budget plan proposed new drilling off the coast of Santa Barbara.
The governor had been a proponent of the Tranquillon Ridge project, which he'd said could generate $140 million for the upcoming budget year to help prevent cutbacks in state parks. Despite the governor's support, the project has stalled amid opposition from lawmakers and the state Lands Commission, which has jurisdiction over such oil leases.
Schwarzenegger said Monday he will not include the project in his revised budget plan, to be unveiled May 14. He said the environmental risk is too great.
"My support for the T-Ridge project here in California was based on numerous studies and making me feel that it was safe to drill," he said. "All of you have seen when you turn on the television the devastation in the Gulf. And I'm sure that they also were assured that it is safe to drill. I see on TV the birds drenched in oil, the fishermen out of work, the massive oil spill, oil slick destroying our precious ecosystem. It will not happen here in California."
Even with the state's budget shortfall swollen to roughly 20% the size of its general fund spending, the governor said the risk of "enormous disaster" is "just much greater than the money is worth."
-- Michael Rothfeld in Sacramento