Gov. Arnold’s bid to resurrect a disputed offshore oil drilling plan suffered a political setback Wednesday when the top lawyer for a key environmental group informed him they could not back his proposal.
While the Santa Barbara-based Environmental Defense Center still believes the controversial Tranquillon Ridge offshore drilling plan should go forward, it cannot support Schwarzenegger’s effort to undo a State Lands Commission vote against the project earlier this year, attorney Linda Krop said in a letter to the governor’s point man on the proposal.
“This is a difficult dilemma, but we simply cannot endorse this process,” Krop wrote to Tom Sheehy, deputy director of the Department of Finance.
The governor’s bid to undo through legislation the State Lands Commission vote against the complex lease arrangement with PXP oil “establishes a precedent whereby a majority vote on the SLC can be overruled by the minority,” Krop’s letter said.
Schwarzenegger is hoping to get $1.8 billion in royalties from the PXP oil company for the 13-year lease, which would be granted in exchange for a host of environmental concessions, including the company’s promise to shut down permanently its offshore drilling operations in nearby federal waters in 2022.
Calbuzz previously reported details and background on the offshore controversy here.