Lungren said he does not oppose drilling off the Palos Verdes Peninsula if it meets all environmental conditions, but he said he resents residents from his district being forced to bear the brunt of oil exploration when other districts have been spared. Sites off Northern California are considered to have more oil deposits, he said.
He was particularly critical of the proposal's provisions to ban drilling near San Diego. Rep. Bill Lowery, who represents the San Diego area, was one of the chief Republican negotiators in the talks with Hodel.
"I do not object to oil drilling from the standpoint that there will be a couple of platforms offshore that many of us would not like to see," Lungren said. "I would object if there is a true environmental sensitivity that would be affected.
"As long as we are treated fairly, we would basically be willing to accept that which is necessary for our country's need."
Residents and city officials in Rancho Palos Verdes, however, say they are opposed to any drilling off the Peninsula. They point foremost to environmental concerns, particularly the effect drilling would have on marine life and whale migrations.
"This is not just a selfish and provincial outlook for the benefit of a few," LaRose said in a letter opposing the drilling. "Expeditions are organized for countless school children to explore our precious and endangered tide pools. . . .
"One can imagine visitors who brave impossible traffic to our designated whale-watching sites, only to see little man-made islands dotting the seascape. What will happen to the whale migratory pattern? Will there still be whales to watch?"
Bob Hattoy, the Southern California representative of the Sierra Club, said the marine life and tide pools along the Peninsula are parts of a delicately balanced ecological system that would be seriously disrupted by oil production three miles offshore.
Hattoy said oil production poses the threat of toxic air pollution, destructive oil spills and visual pollution. "Offshore oil leases are not given in a vacuum" he said. "You are going to need tankers or pipelines. It results in an industrialization of the entire coastal area."
Agreement Can Be Changed
In the wake of a growing public outcry, Lungren and several other California Republicans met with Hodel for an informal discussion July 23. Several congressmen who attended the closed-door session quoted the secretary at that time as saying the proposal "is only a tentative agreement and can be changed at any time."
The congressmen said Hodel indicated that he may reject the proposal in favor of a less restrictive agreement, saying that residents opposed to oil drilling would be lucky to keep drilling within the limits in the proposal. If the proposal is abandoned and Congress does not extend the moratorium, 58,000 square miles of sea floor--instead of 1,000 square miles as proposed--would no longer be off limits to oil company exploration. Under the proposal, 57,000 square miles would remain protected until the year 2000.
"Hodel was saying that we will be lucky if we can keep what we already have and that there is a strong chance he may decide that it's in the national interest to have more oil drilling, not less," said Rep. Ron Packard (R-Carlsbad).