California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Wednesday urged Congress not to “weaken federal protections against offshore oil drilling” in the ongoing consideration of the Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act. Schwarzenegger sent letters to Senate members on the House passage of the deep ocean act, along with a copy to Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), a chief proponent of the measure.

In a separate but related development regarding onshore drilling, California Wednesday became the fifth state to ask for keeping the Clinton administration ban on commercial development on national forest lands. Last year, the federal Agriculture Department scrapped the so-called “roadless rule” that had blocked energy development and other commercial activities on 58 million acres of forest land nationwide, replacing it with a process that allows individual governors to preserve the roadless protections or push for development.

Offshore, Schwarzenegger said the House-passed bill would be “the beginning of the end of [current drilling] protections,” so he will continue to “oppose this bill in the strongest terms.” While not ruling out accepting an amended bill, the California governor said “certain.things are not negotiable,” namely he said promises of increased federal funding or promises of more money will not change his mind.

“Because of our efforts, California’s per-capital energy use has remained nearly flat, while nationwide energy use per-capita has increased by nearly 50%,” Schwarzenegger said.

The California governor suggested that Congress “change the debate,” and begin talking about what he called “a comprehensive energy policy that incorporates the full range of energy efficiency measures and alternative energy sources” that he thinks can keep the nation running without having to do further offshore drilling. He urged the members of the U.S. Senate to oppose the bill, “absent an amendment that would uphold the current moratorium in perpetuity.”


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