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Score one for the oil and gas lobby

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
July 7, 2006


My column this week was meant to be a tirade against a neighbor who took it upon himself to poison a hive of bees inhabiting a ceanothus in my front yard. In the dark of night the deed was done, the next morning revealing bee carcasses all over the cul-de-sac, Battle lines were drawn. That this SUV driving, bird hating, bee killing suburbanite used biological warfare against his neighbors could not go unacknowledged.

Needing to vent, I was going to wax philosophical about the fear of nature and suburban assassins until news of the passage of HR 4761, the Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act of 2006, reared its ugly head. Providing for the exploration, development, and production activities for mineral resources on the outer continental shelf, HR 4761 ends the 25-year moratorium protecting California's coastline.

Passed with 232 in favor, 187 opposed and 13 not voting, I was angered to learn that the two congressmen representing the coastal constituencies of the 49th and 50th districts, Darrel Issa and Brian Bilbray, voted in favor of this blatantly pro-corporate, anti- environment piece of legislation.

Drilling along the coast of California coast serves only to advance a short sighted ideology of industrial extraction while imposing a massive burden on already compromised oceanic ecosystems. Most Californians support the moratorium, one would have to wonder, who do Bilbray and Issa represent. Themselves? Certainly not their constituents?

Using the bad neighbor as a metaphor for anthropocentrism and western culture works here just as well.

For those not familiar with The Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act, Brian Bilbray and Darryl Issa voted to amends the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to revise the determination of adjacent zones and planning areas in the subsoil and seabed of the outer continental shelf and directs the secretary of the interior to include "at least 75% of the available unleased acreage" within the continental shelf planning area for oil and gas leasing.

By voting in favor of HR4761 Congressmen Bilbray and Issa endorsed federal guidelines for lease administration; lease grants; lease receipts; and allocations to states and coastal municipal political subdivision, modifying review guidelines for exploration and drilling permits, and revising requirements for review of development and production plans.

Excuse me, but what exactly is a coastal municipal political subdivision?

Wait it gets better. Bilbray and Issa, have basically endorsed the paradigm that gives oil and gas interests priority over any federal or state agency permitting activities in federal or state waters that are incompatible with either oil or natural gas leasing, or with exploration and production of tracts that are geologically prospective for oil or natural gas."

HR 4761 also amends the Mineral Leasing Act to relaxing regulation of surface-disturbing activities, renames the Minerals Management Service the National Ocean Resources and Royalty Service, and alters the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to repeal the requirement for a comprehensive inventory of oil and gas resources along the outer continental shelf, and payments for oil shale and tar sand leases. HR 4761 also prescribes implementation guidelines for leasing areas within 100 miles of California, as it repeals the Coastal Impact Assistance Program included the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, Brian Bilbray and Darrell Issa voted to gut 25 year of sound environmental policy to meet the needs of the oil and gas industry, at a time Californians are coming to grips with climate change associated with the burning of fossil fuel.

We are so screwed.

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