The U.S. Interior’s Mineral Management Service estimates 11 billion barrels of crude oil along the West Coast, including 1 billion barrels in our regional area. In 2006, Congressman Brian Bilbray voted for HR 4761, the “Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act”, which if passed by the Senate, would have lifted the offshore drilling ban off the coast of California.
According to Source Watch, Bilbray has accepted $182,818 from oil companies. Considering Bilbray touts himself as an “environmentalist” is it reasonable to suspect there is a relationship to his special interest in lifting the long term off-shore oil drilling restrictions?
Lobbyists have been telling Congress that the environmental hysteria is “unproven” and that the “new technology” is safe. How safe is the new technology? Not safe enough. A recent Los Angeles Times article reports that Houston-based Halliburton Company was responsible for cementing the drill into place below the water only 20 hours before the destructive blowout of the new technology that caused the catastrophic spill that threatens the coasts of Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida and could potentially hit the East Coast.
Tragically, the spill is anticipated to be larger than the 1989 Exxon-Valdez oil spill off the coast of Alaska. One need not use imagination to picture how a massive oil spill like the one that is ruining the Gulf Coast waters would devastate California’s coastline fueled by Westerly winds.
Fortunately, President Obama showed common sense by placing a hold on newly proposed off shore-drilling plans while an investigation into the disaster is underway. Congress should reconsider the lifting the currently proposed offshore drilling ban and protect our coastal waters for our future generations.
California is third in consumption of oil behind the rest of the United States and China. Conservation could help us while we work to solve the problem. We need leadership and solutions to help our state and businesses transition into a green-based economy. While we are developing bio-fuels, we must urge conservation measures and promote accessibility of public transit, car-pooling and ride sharing for our urban roads and highways.
If Brian Bilbray and his ilk had their way in 2006, the California coast could have been opened up to offshore drilling and potential disaster.
Leadership means taking responsibility and working for real energy saving, clean energy solutions. We need to ask our congressional representatives – do we really need to drill baby drill for every last drop of oil?
Tracy Emblem is an attorney and a Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress, California 's 50th District.