The status of offshore oil drilling along the California coastline remains uncertain now that the tentative compromise worked out between a majority of California's congressional delegation and Interior Secretary Donald P. Hodel has collapsed in a sea of controversy.
But officials from Orange County coastal communities who have been waging a strong campaign to eliminate the six drilling tracts off the Orange County coastline that were included in the original compromise are optimistic.
At first, the chances of the spirited county effort seemed slim against the weight of the forces against it. To their credit, that didn't deter the opponents.
Coastal community residents and officials, and others from throughout the county supporting their stand, have been appearing at hearings and holding rallies to persuade Hodel and Congress of how much an economic and ecological mistake it would be to include the Orange County coastline in any new drilling areas.
A group of city officials from San Clemente, Laguna Beach and Newport Beach was dispatched to Washington last week. The mission was to offset the oil industry lobby and try to persuade legislators and a congressional subcommittee hearing the disputed plan to eliminate the offshore Orange County tracts.
It now appears the county effort made headway. The Washington delegation returned with assurances from U.S. Sens. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) and Pete Wilson (R-Calif.) and other congressional representatives that Orange County's coast would be protected.
It's obvious that eventually there will be more offshore oil rigs off the California coastline. But because of the united determination and spirited but non-shrill opposition, it appears that the Orange County coastline may be spared.