Bush Administration Moves to Appeal Ban on Drilling Off California Coast


DATE: August 23, 2001

BACKGROUND: Two months ago a U.S. District Court ruled that California's Coastal Commission can prevent drilling in 36 already-leased tracts of ocean off the coast of that state. Now the Bush administration has filed notice to appeal that ruling and the move has met with strong disapproval from California Governor Gray Davis (D) and others in the state's government.

TEN SECOND RESPONSE: If there was ever was proof of Governor Davis's responsibility for California's energy crisis, refusing to allow drilling for gas to fire California's own badly-needed new generators is it.

THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: Governor Davis's refusal to allow drilling far off California's shores, from already existing drilling rigs, is his most irresponsible and hypocritical move in California's long-running energy crisis. He has finally agreed that his state needs more power plants. He insists that they be gas-fired. He complains bitterly about being charged too much for natural gas by out-of-state suppliers. Now he refuses to allow drilling in his own back yard.

DISCUSSION: According to the California Energy Commission, the state consumes over 6.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas every year. Even though there are abundant reserves of natural gas and oil off the California coast, California produces only 16 percent of its total needs. Of that 16 percent, only 2 percent is produced from offshore drilling.

The rest of the state's voracious appetite for natural gas is supplied by: Rocky Mountain states 10 percent; Canada 28 percent; and the Southwest 46 percent.

An important fact: NO NEW OIL RIGS WOULD BE USED to drill in the 36 three-square mile tracts of just three California counties. All drilling would be done by directional drilling from existing rigs.

Additional information about California's natural gas situation can be found at: http://www.energy.ca.gov/naturalgas/natural_gas_facts.html

by Tom Randall, Director
John P. McGovern, MD Center for Environmental and Regulatory Affairs,
The National Center for Public Policy Research

Contact the author at: 773-857-5086 or TRandall@nationalcenter.org
The National Center for Public Policy Research, Chicago office
3712 North Broadway - PMB 279
Chicago, IL 60613