Clashing directly with the White House again, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wasted no time Wednesday making public his continued opposition to lifting the moratorium on offshore oil/gas drilling along the coast of California and other coastal sates.

Schwarzenegger responded to President Bush’s call earlier in the day for the Democratic leaders of Congress to remove the 27-year-old ban on oil and natural gas drilling in most of the federal Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) and other areas.

In the past Schwarzenegger has joined other West Coast governors in opposing any resumption of offshore drilling, fending off any efforts in the federal government to weaken offshore oil/gas drilling bans, and forming a partnership two years ago with Govs. Christine Gregoire of Washington state and Theodore Kulongoski of Oregon to protect the Pacific Coast (see Daily GPI, Oct. 3, 2006).

Calling the California coastline “an international treasure,” Schwarzenegger said Wednesday he opposes lifting the moratorium, but he would welcome a “national discussion about how to lower the cost of gasoline,” saying soaring prices are “taking a toll on California families just as they are on families all across the country.”

“We are in this situation because of our dependence on traditional petroleum-based oil,” said the actor-turned-governor who was known for driving large, gas-guzzling SUVs before he became governor and has since modified some of his vehicles to run on hydrogen while strongly embracing state policies pushing the use of alternative fuels, renewable energy and greenhouse gas emission limits.

“The direction our nation needs to go in, and where California is already headed, is toward greater innovation in new technologies and new fuel choices for consumers. That is the way we will ultimately reduce fuel costs and also protect our environment.”

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