Drilling off California's coast temporarily suspended

Jun 26, 1999 02:00 AM

Just days before federal officials were expected to allow oil companies to begin new drilling off California's coast, a federal agency temporarily suspended the plans.
The U.S. Minerals Management Service decided to allow more time to study revised drilling proposals submitted by the companies last month, leaving in place a six-year prohibition of new oil exploration along the state's central coast until Aug. 16.
Oil companies were expected to begin preliminary work for production very soon.
Opponents include Gov. Gray Davis, environmentalists and local organisations who fear new drilling will make the coast vulnerable to oil spills.
"It's unfortunate many of the political candidates and environmental groups are blowing this way out of proportion to what it is," said Frank Holmes, spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Association. "The leases can be developed in an environmentally safe and sound manner."
Susan Jordan of the League for Coastal Protection said the decision buys time, but merely postpones an inevitable showdown.
"I don't see this as a victory at all because what we want is the expiration of these leases," Jordan said.

Source: AP
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