By Christine Neilson
Special to the OC Voice
Are Californians desperate enough for oil to overcome their deep-seated aversion to offshore drilling?
Will a new Democratic or Republican president and Congress lift the national moratorium on offshore drilling for oil instituted by former president George R. Bush, Sr., as requested by his son and current president, George W. Bush?
California’s offshore oil industry stretches back more than a century. The world’s first offshore well was drilled in 1897 at the end of a wharf in Summerland, just east of Santa Barbara.
The waters between Santa Barbara and the Channel Islands still hold most of California’s operating oil platforms.
The U.S. Minerals Management Service controls oil leases in federal waters, which start 3 miles off the California coast. Most of the state’s known oil fields lie not far from shore, in an arc stretching from Santa Maria to Long Beach.
A 1969 blowout at a rig near Santa Barbara spewed crude oil into the sea, coating or contaminating 30 miles of shoreline. The spill helped forge the modern environmental movement and led to state and federal moratoriums on new offshore drilling.
On Feb. 7, 1990, the steam tanker American Trader spilled an estimated 416,598 gallons of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean off of Huntington Beach. (more…)