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Oil Drilling off Santa Barbara Coast Back on the Table

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Off the coast of Santa Barbara | Photo by bossco via Flickr

Off the coast of Santa Barbara | Photo by bossco via Flickr
Despite the fact that the state Assembly rejected a proposal allowing new offshore drilling in the budget vote a few weeks ago, the issues is back. Or, as Dan Jacobson of Environment California puts it, "the coast won and the oil companies lost... Or so it would seem."

As the LA Times explains, "after the measure failed, Assembly leaders expunged the vote altogether, sparing lawmakers running for reelection an official record of their controversial decision. The voting logs made available to the public on the Legislature's website do not indicate who voted for and against the bill on July 24."

Jacobson calls it "an archaic rule and a sneaky move by the oil companies and their cronies." Rules in the state Senate do not allow for votes to be expunged.

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Nevertheless, Jacobson's organization is calling for yet another flurry of letters from Californians to be sent to their Assemblymembers. "When going up against oil companies, I've come to expect sneaky tricks. But this goes beyond the pale. We can't let the oil companies get away with this," he wrote, noting that $17 million in oil money has been spent in PR and lobbying California since 2005. One company, Plains Exploration and Production, stands to gain a lot if drilling is allowed.

Back in 1969, an infamous spill coated miles of coastline with oil, helping prompt a federal moratorium (which ended last year), the Earth Day movement and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Legislators are pretty vague on why they are allowing for the possibility for offshore drilling. "Though it's rare, occasionally the procedural step of expunging a vote is necessary," said Shannon Murphy, a spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) to the Times. "She said the procedure can be used to allow "further discussion and negotiation that may ultimately lead to consensus on a contentious issue."