If you have followed California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career, you will find he has flip flopped on the issue of offshore drilling several times. In 2008, Schwarzenegger refused to join the Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s call to lift a moratorium on offshore drilling; however, the state soon faced an insurmountable budget crisis that caused the governor to revise his position. Given the tragedy of the recent massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Schwarzenegger has changed his mind again and no longer supports offshore drilling.
Ironically, it was the Santa Barbara offshore oil rig “blowout” in 1969 that initiated the moratorium on offshore drilling in California. 41 years later, the same cause of environmental damage on a different coast has caused the California governor to examine the consequences of offshore drilling and remove it from his May state budget revision. NPR explains:
Schwarzenegger had been counting on revenue from expanded drilling in the ocean off Santa Barbara to help close the state’s $20 billion budget deficit. Democrats last year blocked a similar proposal, but Schwarzenegger renewed his support for the plan, saying it was a reliable way to increase revenue as the state grapples with an ongoing fiscal crisis.
On Monday, Schwarzenegger said his support had been based on numerous studies finding it was safe to drill. But now, “I see on TV, the birds drenched in oil, the fishermen out of work, the massive oil spill, oil slick destroying our precious ecosystem,” the governor said.
The governor’s revised position “almost ensures no new drilling will be allowed in the state’s waters,” according to the BBC. This is good news for Californians, but will the Gulf spill change more American’s opinion on “Drill, baby, drill” and protect our coastlines? Will the Senate revise its energy plan that includes “expanded offshore oil and gas drilling” as a “central component to the compromise,” as reported by the New York Times? Unfortunately, President Obama has not followed Schwarzenegger’s lead and is still sticking to his plan of “significant expansion of offshore drilling”.