In California, Santa Barbara County supervisors are preparing to reinstate a "ban" on offshore drilling, reversing a controversial decision made 8 months ago. The county will deny permits for onshore processing, which effectively halts any new offshore drilling - the actual drilling being something the county has no jurisdiction over. The new position reflects a change of heart (and a change in the board's make up) in favor of alternative energy sources before drilling is even considered.
"I feel strongly that we've been a national leader in conservation and alternative energy," said board member Doreen Farr. "That's the direction we need to go. We can't drill our way out of this."
But not everyone is in agreement. Many Santa Barbara County residents have no problem with tapping into undersea resources, contending that evolving technology has minimized the risk of catastrophic spills. "It's irresponsible not to develop offshore drilling and production, with a serious eye to making certain it's safe -- which it can be," said Joni Gray, a supervisor who represents the Santa Maria and Lompoc areas.
The new proposed resolution will be considered next week, the timing being in conjunction with an Interior Department hearing in San Francisco on offshore drilling. While there are those who advocate that offshore drilling technology has improved, the memory of the disastrous 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill is still fresh in the minds of many.