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Congressman Bilbray and the Politics of Off-Shore Drilling

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.