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Rep. Garamendi: Gov. Schwarzenegger’s Decision to Pull Support for PXP Oil Deal Good for California, Congressional Action Still Needed

May 3, 2010
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek, CA) today issued the following statement after Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that he is giving up on his plan to approve what would have been the first new offshore oil drilling lease in more than four decades in California:

"It’s unfortunate it took one of the worst ecological disasters in U.S. history for Governor Schwarzenegger to come to his senses, but today, friends of California’s coastline can breathe a sigh of relief. For the time being, there will be no new offshore oil drilling off the coast of Santa Barbara, and that means the oil companies salivating for new drilling will have to look elsewhere for evidence of the Golden State’s willingness to sell its coast to the highest bidder.

"When I chaired the California State Lands Commission, the independent commission responsible for approving oil leases in California, I made it clear that the risk of permitting new drilling in California is ecological and economic disaster. The Gulf Coast oil spill – which threatens 40 percent of U.S. wetlands and will cost fishing and tourism industries billions of dollars – proves my point.

"President Obama has proposed a temporary presidential moratorium on new offshore oil drilling, and that’s a good start, but Congress plays an important role as well. Our coast is best protected when both the President and Congress make it clear that new drilling is not an option.

"An oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara jumpstarted the modern environmentalist movement 41 years ago, helping to create the Environmental Protection Agency, Earth Day, and ultimately, offshore oil drilling moratoriums that served us well for 26 years. What will they say about our response to the Gulf Coast tragedy?"

In January 2009, then-Lieutenant Governor, in a two-to-one decision at the California State Lands Commission, voted to block new drilling at the PXP platform off the coast of Santa Barbara. During an attempt to bypass the longstanding independent authority of the State Lands Commission, Garamendi led the fight to stop what would have been the first new offshore oil drilling lease in more than four decades in California. The California Assembly ultimately defeated the workaround by a 28-43 vote.