Paul Chinn / The ChronicleIt’s not often that US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar delivers a speech to polar bears, dolphins, jelly fish and sea turtles, who all sit intently on chairs in the audience.  It’s not every day that you see surfers covered in chocolate oil spills.

Salazar was making the opening remarks to a public hearing on the contentious issue of oil drilling off the coast of California, in San Francisco.

It was the fourth and final stop on Salazar’s national tour to gage public reaction to his agency’s proposal to open up more than 1 billion acres for petroleum development off the nation’s coasts. The hearing was packed with drilling opponents as well as politicians.  But the over-riding concensus was: No.

“Our state is saying clearly to you today, no,” Senator Barbara Boxer told Salazar at the opening of the hearing at the UC San Francisco Mission Bay campus. The California Democrat said the state’s coastline is a huge economic asset “just as it is.”

She was not the only politician opposed to the plan. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Resources Secretary Mike Crisman, as well as local county political leaders all said they did not want the risk of spills and industrial activity for a short-term supply of crude oil.

But big-oil supporters tried to put their case too. “Right now we import 60 to 65 percent of our oil from a foreign country,” argued Joe Sparano, president of the Western States Petroleum Industry, to hisses from the audience. “There are 10 billion barrels of oil off the shore of California. That would allow us to replace California’s foreign imports for 35 years.”

A decision is expected sometime after September. In the meantime, drilling opponents are taking nothing for granted. Boxer, said she will introduce a bill next month to reinstate the national moratorium. “I would hope the likelihood of new drilling is slim to none,” she said. “But there is no resting when you have an asset like the California coast that is so perfect left alone. You have to protect it very hard. You cannot be complacent.”


  • Am a calif and would like calif to start oil drilling,I would to know who said calif don’t want drilling I did see a vote asking calif people about this agenda,gas is getting out of hand and the barrel of oil went for 70.00$ today we spend 7000000 billion a year on forgein oil inports,Mrs Senator Barbara Boxer is out of touch in whats going on, am going to show a great man article that makes

    Once oil man now energy independence evangelist T. Boone Pickens is correct when he says, “Our staggering dependence on foreign oil is responsible for more than two-thirds of our trade deficit, and it’s killing our economy and putting our national security at risk.”

    Pickens, in his sixth consecutive monthly update on the level of United States’ oil importation, says that based on the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA), the U.S. imported 65 percent of its oil, or 366 million barrels, in May 2009, sending approximately $21.6 billion, or $484,087 per minute, overseas to foreign governments.

    That’s a lot of money that if spent at home would be at least preserving jobs, at best creating them.

    In 2008, when oil reached more than $140 a barrel, the U.S. sent about $700 billion overseas to buy oil, according to a press release from the Pickens Plan. $700 billion is $87 billion less the the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), also known as the Stimulus Package, enacted as a way to help bring the country out of the current recession, but also adding to the U.S. debt.

    Pickens says that $700 billion equaled “the greatest transfer of wealth in human history.”

    No wonder we’re broke.

    Pickens Plan calls for investing in power generation from domestic renewable resources such as wind and using our abundant supplies of natural gas as a transportation fuel, replacing more than one-third of our imported oil. He has interests in both wind and natural gas.

    If money wasn’t sent overseas for oil it could be invested in energy research here at home, which would eventually to lead total energy independence, emission free power, new business opportunities and the new employment that goes along with any new investment. At nearly 10 percent unemployment, job creation is now a great concern.

    Even without huge investment, research into new energy sources still moves along, albeit slowly

    The National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory was officially dedicated on May 29. The NIF, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, is based around the world’s highest-energy laser system of 192 laser beams that will focus nearly two million joules of energy to create temperatures and pressures that exist in the cores of stars and giant planets. By harnessing the massive power generated by its lasers, NIF plans to create conditions and conduct a wide range of experiments never before possible on earth.

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