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Political Fix by Gloria Penner


Congressman Brian Bilbray was an avid surfer and lifeguard when he was elected to the Imperial Beach City Council at age 24. A few years later, then Mayor Bilbray made news and established his credentials as an environmentalist when at the controls of a skip loader , he diverted raw sewage from flowing into the U.S. from Mexico. The photograph of his exploits was widely circulated and his reputation as an ocean lover was enhanced.

Now, Congressman Bilbray represents San Diego County's northern coast, an area whose residents vigorously protect the neighboring ocean and its shoreline. The idea of offshore oil drilling is abhorrent to coastal dwellers who remember the destruction caused by a massive oil spill off Santa Barbara in 1969 . But as gasoline prices rise, that opposition could moderate .

In fact, a recent national poll shows that public opinion has generally shifted to favoring an expansion of offshore oil exploration.

michael valentine from spring Valley
July 25, 2008 at 01:30 PM
Will you be telling us what Congressman Bilbray has apparently figured out about the off shore drilling issue?

J Lambert
July 27, 2008 at 08:07 AM
Why are liberals continuing to bring up an off-shore accident that happeneed almost 40 years ago. Get over it ! The technology of off-shore oil exploration has dramatically improved in the last 35+ years. Don't you realized that the Brits get much of their energy from the oil from the North Sea. This exploration is in deep wells off the east coast of England. They have done well with these discoveries. Oil off-shore California would bring high paying jobs to young people here in Southern California. It would also bring tax revenue for the state and would decrease the billions of our dollars that flow to the middle east.

Kate from San Diego
July 29, 2008 at 10:35 PM
Don't be distracted by labels of "liberal" or "conservative" on this issue. The price of oil is set by the WORLD market supply and demand NOT supplies in USA. The belief that billions of dollars won't flow to the Middle East after we harvest this small amount is ignorant of oil markets' pricing. Why risk our coastline (and tourism revenue!) for an estimated 1-1.5% increase in world oil supplies? This drilling benefits oil companies not consumers. (Oil companies are heavy contributors to certain politicians.)

Phil Calabrese from San Diego
July 29, 2008 at 10:36 PM
Drilling off shore wouldn't help significantly to solve any of our immediate or future energy problems (10+ year lead time and a small % of our present demand). It would bring some risk of significant air, sea and land pollution and also divert attention from a wiser strategy: A proliferation of electicity-generating solar systems on rooftops with full payment by the utility for these individual producers. That would reduce payback time on solar systems, provide security from transmission line disruption, encourage hybrid electric-gasoline cars, clean our air, and provide the economically struggling middle class free energy from the sun. One drawback: It would take some power out of the hands of SDG & E and put it into the hands of the people. Expect resistance!

Gloria Penner from KPBS
July 29, 2008 at 10:51 PM
Tomorrow morning (7/30) on These Days at 10 am, Tom Fudge and I will be talking about the politics of offshore oil drilling and I'll play some of the clips from my conversation with Brian Bilbray. So, Michael, J, Kate and Phil, you'll have a chance to call in before 10:20 am and we can talk further. Gloria

Larry Jarvis from San Diego
July 30, 2008 at 12:06 AM
If you want to know where politians stand on off shore drilling, look at how much money they take from the oil companies. Example: McCain now has received over a million dollars from the oil company's lobbist since he has come out in favor of off shore drilling. Don't tell me Mr Enviorment and squeeky clean Mr Bilbray will change his opinion of it all for the take of what ever dollars he can get from them. What is that profession they call the oldest one in existance? People who shift their points of view on issues for money remind me of them................L. Jarvis

Christopher from La Mesa
July 30, 2008 at 12:50 AM
Gloria - Thank you for begining the conversation. However, your appear to be selling us and the planet out by taking the oil companies bait to begin this conversation around oil and drilling. We cannot drill our way out of this problem. Our nation needs a comprehensive energy policy that works for the globe. Bilbray touches on this, but points the blame at others and returns the discussion to petroleum. We should be asking him and all our leaders, for a comprehensive strategy to be enacted, including benchmarks for achievement along with penalties and rewards for meeting them. This should include short term items, like hybid vehicles, photovoltaic, wind and thermal. Letting the wealth off by draining oil reserves just delays facing the issue head on.

michael valentine from spring Valley
August 05, 2008 at 12:37 AM
Doesn't it make more sense to use the strategic oil reserves that can be used to lower the cost of gas in the United States as opposed to drilling off shore to bring in crude that has to go to the international market? In a world of diminishing resources keeping the oil under our control and still under still the ground as a reserve to be tapped in the event of a National Security Emergency, such as being held hostage to Middle Eastern or South American petroleum economic blackmail? All this talk about drilling now is a darn good example of Disaster Capitalism as outlined by Naomi Klein In her book The Shock Doctrine; The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. The price of gas having shot up to almost $5.00 a gallon here in San Diego, people are shocked at having to pay $100 to fill up the good-old-boy pick em up. Outrageous, start drilling now! Only not a drop of off shore oil will be in the market before that overblown, poor mileage, macho trip of a truck is a rusted reminder of our President's failed Administration. Bush's blunder in Iraq, his doubling of the National Debt, the free falling value of the dollar, his total lack of diplomatic efforts in Iran all contribute to the current fix we find ourselves in with regards to the price of oil. While there was a Republican President and a Republican Congress for the first six years of this miserably, possibly criminal, failed administration, why didn't they enact a solution to this problem? Couldn't they see this coming? So here we are, oil is sky high and the Republican Congress-people who have taken the money of big oil are proving loyal servants by raising a meaningless noise on the floor of the House. Straight talking John McCain has gotten over a million dollars from the oil lobby since he flip-flopped on off shore drilling. Once more, oil coming out of the ground goes to international market. Oil coming out of the reserve goes were the government says so, like the domestic market. Which will make the biggest impact and the soonest? Makes you wonder which side the Republicans are on.

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