President Barack Obama’s plan to open new areas off the nation’s coasts to oil and gas drilling exempts California, but still set off reverberations in a state largely opposed to steel rigs in the water.
Richard Charter of Bodega Bay, a veteran anti-drilling lobbyist, said the plan Obama announced Wednesday gives California a “temporary reprieve” from drilling for the next seven years.
“After 2017, all bets are off,” Charter said. Media calls to his office began at 5 a.m., he said, following Tuesday’s advance word of the president’s plan.
A 26-year ban on oil drilling along the North Coast lapsed in October, 2008, during a presidential campaign that included a Republican call to “drill now,” augmented by public frustration over $4 a gallon gasoline.
A gallon of regular gas cost an average of $3.10 a gallon on Wednesday in Santa Rosa, up 10 cents from a month ago and 90 cents higher than a year ago.
Obama’s plan opens vast expanses of water along the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to oil and gas development.
The California coast from Point Arena south to Big Sur holds an estimated 2.3 billion barrels of untapped oil, and all of California holds about 10 billion barrels. The United States consumes about 20 million barrels of oil per day.
– Guy Kovner