Environment & Science

Lands commission objects to resurrected drilling proposal

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The governor’s plans to cut California’s deficit rely in part on resurrecting an oil project off Santa Barbara that state lands commissioners killed in January. At a hearing today in Santa Monica, lands commissioners objected to proposed legislation that would cut them out of the approval process.

Commissioner and lieutenant governor John Garamendi said the governor’s budget proposal violates the spirit of state law.

John Garamendi: "What we have here is a naked end run around the authority of this commission for the first time since the authority was removed from the director of finance because of fraud and abuse by the director of finance. That’s why this commission was created. That’s why this commission was given the power that it has today."

Garamendi opposed a deal that allowed Plains Exploration to drill offshore in exchange for some controversial guarantees, because he said it wasn’t enforceable. But the state’s finance director says billions of dollars in drilling royalties could boost the budget. Legislators expect to pick up the issue in committee this week.