Schwarzenegger Sacrifices California’s Coasts for Big Oil and Big Shipping


With his veto pen in hand yesterday, Governor Schwarzenegger missed a huge opportunity to leave a real environmental legacy. Instead, he demonstrated his disregard for California’s priceless marine environment and its billion dollar associated economy, swiftly undermining our ability to respond to the next devastating oil spill.  The governor vetoed AB 234 (D- Huffman), a bill that would have been a triple-win when it comes to protecting our state from oil spills.

If signed, the legislation would have required a safety precaution known as pre-booming – placing oil containment boom in the water – during the fuel transfer operations that take place daily in California’s coastal waters. This technique could have prevented the Dubai Star tanker from spilling over 500 gallons into San Francisco Bay last October. In addition to this increased protection, the bill included a timely take-a-way from the BP gulf oil tragedy and would have insured that the 27 oil rigs in California state waters are equipped with fully redundant safety mechanisms to prevent a blowout here.

If that wasn’t reason enough to sign – and we know the Governor received hundreds of letters appealing to him to do so – AB 234 would have raised money from big oil to fund our State’s agency, the Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR), which reports an expected $3 million deficit next year and nearly a $12 million dollar shortfall by 2012 that will force them to scale back services.

Yes, the Governor just vetoed a bill that would have raised one penny on each barrel of oil coming into California to insure our protection from oil spills.  Why would he do that?  Opposing AB 234, not surprisingly, are the Western States Petroleum Association and the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association – Big Oil and Big Shipping. Let’s hope our next Governor is not so prone to sell out California to please big business.

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