DEUKMEJIAN'S APPROACH GETS GOOD COASTAL PROTECTIONS, DUFFY SAYS
For immediate release
In the last two years, the Deukmejian administration has negotiated better environmental protections for the California coastline than were produced by eight preceding years of lawsuits against offshore oil drilling, according to the Governor's Secretart of Environmental Affairs, Gordon Duffy.
Speaking today at a conference on offshore oil drilling in Long Beach, Duffy said that negotiation and
cooperation with the Federal government have led to environmental protections long sought by California and have set the stage for permanent changes to Federal anti-pollution rules that recognize the unique problems offshore oil drilling causes for the state.
"With a philosophy of open communication and tough negotiation, we've produced the best set of safeguards for California's coastline since offshore oil drilling has been proposed," Duffy told the group.
"In our negotiations with the Federal government over the last two years, we've produced nearly every environmental safeguard that California wanted---and didn't get---through eight years of lawsuits that have lived longer than either the Reagan or Deukmejian administrations."
While praising the results of negotiation, however, Duffy downplayed the environmental benefits of
congressionally imposed drilling bans, saying that supporting the drilling rnoratoria "allow politicians to look environmental without having to make any of the tough decisions that actually protect the environment."
Duffy noted that the only support for moratoria, such as the one that now bans drilling between 3 and 20 miles off the Southern California coast, is based on fickle political will, "which is about as shifty as the faults that cause California's earthquakes."
"A war, oil shortage or some other world-wide crises can wipe out this congressional oil drilling ban in just a couple of months with no guarantees that the oil projects to follow would include any environmental protections," Duffy said.
Duffy said, in contrast, agreements negotiated with the federal government over the last two oil leases off the California coast include protections for air, water, marine life and beaches that the Interior Department is legally responsible to provide during the entire lifetime of the leases involved.
"These agreements protect California's coastline for generations to come while accommodating the development to meet the energy needs of those generations," Duffy said.
Without these negotiated agreements, Duffy noted, California would be victimized by weak federal anti-pollution rules that fail to recognize the unique environmental problems the state has to face because of offshore oil development.
The agreements were a breakthrough in settling long-standing disputes between Washington and Sacramento and now are the basis for permanent changes in federal law being negotiated by California.
"Most people fail to understand that California, or any other coastal state, is not in the position of approving offshore oil drilling but must cope with lease decisions made in Washington over which the states have no authority and sometimes too little influence," Duffy said.
The agreements reached in Lease Sales 73 and 80 (1983 and 1984 off the Southern California coast and centered in the Santa Barbara Channel) require offshore oil development to meet anti-smog standards, restrict traffic lanes for crew and supply boats to prevent disruption to marine life and increase protections against oil spills. Duffy said, however, that the most important result of the negotiated agreements was putting some environmentally fragile areas off limits to drilling for the entire lite of both lease sales.
"At California's insistence, areas off Malibu Beach that oil companies were very interested in were banned from the last lease sale because, in our opinion, they were environmentally too fragile," Duffy said.
"Marine sanctuaries at Anacapa and Santa Catalina Islands in the Santa Barbara Channel and areas around Morro Bay and Pismo Beach also were dropped from the last offshore oil lease sale because of California's view that they deserved more environmental protection," Duffy said.
The Interior Department's latest 5-year plan for drilling off the Central and Northern California coasts also reflects some environmentally helpful policy changes that were influenced by California's recommendations, Duffy noted.
"They have scaled down the size of areas proposed for leasing so we can concentrate our environmental review on those places where there is real interest in drilling for oil," Duffy said. In previous lease sale announcements, the state wasted valuable time and staff evaluating potential environmental problems in places where there was little or no interesting drilling but had been proposed by the Interior Department anyway.
"In addition," said Duffy, "Interior has spaced the lease proposals further apart, giving the state more time to evaluate the environmental consequences of subsequent development and to plan for onshore development that offshore oil projects require."
According to the proposal released by the Interior Department last week for oil exploration between 1986 and 1991, lease sales would occur once every three years instead of every two years called for in previous schedules.
"Both of these major policy changes by the Interior Department benefit California and only were possible because we were willing to work witlh the Federal government and make some tough aecisions," Duffy said.
"Our approach has been the only way that Calitornia, with limited options available under Federal law, could have taken charge of its own future in protecting its coastline. Any other approach, including support for a drilling moratorium, is a political cop-out that provides no real guarantees of environme11tal protections."
"Congressional drilling bans dodge the tough decisions and leave the future of California's coastline in the hands of oil barons of the Middle East and congressmen from the Midwest," Duffy said.