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Schwarzenegger: Fund State Parks via Offshore Oil Money

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Prairie Creek Redwood State Park, brought to you by Offshore Drilling? | Photo by andrew davidoff via Flickr

Prairie Creek Redwood State Park, brought to you by Offshore Drilling? | Photo by andrew davidoff via Flickr
For once, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger laid out a budget proposal that does not cut money from state parks. That sounds great, however, it's one of those tricky smoke and mirrors ideas--he'll fund state parks using offshore oil money, says Traci Verardo-Torres of the California State Parks Foundation.

"The California State Parks Foundation (CSPF) rejects the Governor’s proposal to eliminate core public funding for California’s 278 state parks and replace it with uncertain funding from an oil drilling project that has not been approved for California, as announced in his proposed 2010-11 State Budget today," a statement from the organization read. "He has resurrected the Tranquillon Ridge offshore oil drilling proposal and has attempted to give this controversial and uncertain financial proposal environmental credentials by directing its proceeds to the state park system."

The Tranquillon Ridge project in Santa Barbara County was killed last year by the State Lands Commission and failed to pass out of the state legislature last year. Even if somehow passed, therefore funding state parks, there are dire environmental problems with it, say eco-advocates.

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"Our coast is one of our most important economic assets and renewing offshore oil drilling puts at great risk our tourist and fishing industries," said Dan Jacobson with Environment California.

"The hypocrisy of the Governor cannot be overstated," said Susan Jordan who directs the California Coastal Protection Network. " He would rather reverse forty years of bi-partisan California state policy against offshore oil drilling to push through a pet project over 100 statewide groups have joined to oppose rather than require oil companies extracting oil from our state's sea beds pay a severance tax -- their fair share to taxpayers for doing business in California. We are the only oil producing state in America that does not tax extraction of gas and oil on lands owned by the state. This would bring in more than 1.5 billion dollars annually to the state's General Fund," she emphasized.