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No New Oil Drilling Off California Coast For Now

California Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek) expressed relief that California is not on the list of proposed federal offshore oil drilling locations announced by President Barack Obama and Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar Wednesday.

Garamendi was Deputy Secretary of the Interior under President Bill Clinton. He called Wednesday's offshore oil drilling announcement a victory for California's coastline. Garamendi said new drilling could "potentially devastate natural habitats and ruin the tourism, fishing, and other ocean-based economies that millions of Californians rely upon."

He said devastating oil spills from recently-built offshore oil rigs are still common.

Garamendi cited a massive oil spill from an offshore oil rig in 2009 near Australia that lasted nearly three months, spewing at least 6 million gallons of oil over 9,000 square miles.

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama announced an expansion of offshore oil drilling along the Atlantic coast, arguing that America must break its dependency on foreign oil and rely more on "homegrown fuels and clean energy."

Obama chose Andrews Air Base on the outskirts of Washington D.C. for his announcement, telling a military audience "this is not a decision that I've made lightly."

The move reverses longstanding government policy.

Obama is allowing drilling along a large portion of Virginia's shoreline and is considering it for a large chunk of the Atlantic seaboard.

In 2008, Congress allowed the federal moratorium on offshore oil drilling to lapse, opening up America's coast to new drilling for the first time since 1981.

Congressman Garamendi supports restoring the offshore oil drilling moratorium.

The group Environment California reacted negatively to the expansion of offshore oil drilling by the Obama Administration.

"Environment California is deeply disappointed in President Obama’s decision to expand offshore drilling for oil and gas,” the group said. “While we are relieved that this new drilling does not yet include California, any new drilling in the United States threatens our $390 billion coastal tourism industry, which is reliant on clean beaches and healthy marine life."

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