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Santa Barbara offshore drilling moratorium saved in Obama plan

March 31, 2010 |  5:16 pm

Activists in Southern California breathed a sigh of relief Wednesday at news of the Obama administration's offshore drilling plan.

While environmentalists elsewhere lamented the opening of new areas to drilling and the petroleum industry bemoaned not opening more, Santa Barbara saw a return to status quo ante.

The new federal plan rescinds a previous leasing program that had included areas off Santa Barbara, including the Santa Maria Basin and the entire Santa Barbara Channel, according to the Environmental Defense Center. By rescinding the Bush plan and enacting his own, Obama left in place a moratorium on further federal leasing enacted in 1990 and extended by the Clinton Administration.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar also promised to keep the contentious Santa Barbara offshore areas out of a future federal program.

-- Geoff Mohan

Photo: An oil platform in a federal leasing area of the Santa Barbara channel. Credit: Al Seib/Los Angeles Times