What the gulf oil spill means (or doesn’t) for CA

The disastrous oil spill still in progress in the Gulf of Mexico has further fueled the already-hot debate over drilling off California’s coast, with some significant disagreements on what lessons we should take.

Pedro NavaAttorney General candidate and Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, hosted a field hearing of his Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee today in Hermosa Beach to talk about public health and environmental threats posed by oil drilling. Testimony was given by representatives from regulators, the oil industry, environmental and community groups and local governments.

“Today’s hearing further highlights the need for the State of California to provide enhanced protections for the public from the dangers posed by oil drilling in California,” Nava said in a news release. “Many parts of the state are impacted by oil development and drilling. Whether it is Hermosa Beach and Baldwin Hills in Los Angeles County or Santa Barbara (the proposed location of the first new drilling in California Sanctuary Act waters in 41 years), it is imperative that the public is protected. We must make sure that we do not expose Californians to the type of catastrophe that is currently occurring in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Nava said information today will be used to improve state regulations and close gaps in the existing permitting process, and will be the basis for protecting the California environment and public from abusive oil industry practices.

Meanwhile, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina today said on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” that while she might not be of Sarah Palin’s “drill, baby, drill” ilk, “what I would say is I believe that the United States of America needs to take advantage of every source of domestic energy we have. We ought to take advantage of oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear, and, yes, sun and wind and all the rest of it. But if we are serious about growing our economy and lessening our dependence on foreign oil, then offshore drilling has to be part of that equation.

Carly Fiorina“And I would hope that people wouldn’t use this tragedy — it’s both an economic tragedy and an environmental tragedy — to politicize the notion and say, ‘See, see, it can’t be done safely.’ The truth is it is being done safely in many places,” Fiorina said.

She called the gulf spill “a very troublesome situation. And while I support offshore drilling if it can be done in an environmentally safe way — and most of the time it is — certainly technology has come a long way. An accident like this shakes people to the core, no question. I believe it should be up to the voters of each state. Interestingly, in the last five years, the voters of California have come to favor, by a majority, offshore drilling.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    Carleton makes sense on this issue. “The China Syndrome” and TMI set back the nuclear power industry decades, to no American’s benefit, on waves of emotions and ignorance. Let’s not rush to judgment. BP may be partially to blame; offshore drilling is not inherently risky.

  • Ralph Hoffmann, Previously Invited Columnist

    Has anyone given any thought to the real possibility that this Gulf oil spill could have been a deliberate act of terrorism by a BP employee? The timing, just after Obama’s recent off-shore oil relaxing is may not be coincidental. What better way to continue our dependence on fossil fuels from unfriendly nations, than to cause this massive spill. The result, as you wrote, RR, is what TMI did to Nuclear Power, this spill will do to Off-Shore Oil, in the eyes of environmentalists.