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'Try the Truth, Mr. Hodel'

May 07, 1986

Your editorial (April 24) telling Interior Secretary Donald P. Hodel to "Try the Truth" seems a bit contradictory. By virtue of your knowledge concerning various statistics on the offshore oil and gas issue, it is obvious that you are also aware of other more reflective figures of the true picture. You obviously chose those stats to suit your extreme biased needs in support of the potential reinstatement of the offshore development moratorium measure being pushed by Rep. Leon Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) and company.

The flimsy excuse that the congressmen need the moratorium measure as a fallback position should negotiations fail is a guise for the real reason. The real reason is that results of negotiations must go exactly their way or they deem it a failure, thus they look for some threatening insurance policy against Hodel that he'd better see things their way.

They just won't abide by the process that they established themselves back in 1978 called the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act Amendments. Under that law, a two-year process was set up that each and every lease sale must go through before it occurs. During that process, more than 90% of all offshore acreage looked at for possible inclusion for leasing gets eliminated. At least that's the average of the last 19 years.

But they're not satisfied with that. If the process doesn't result in their particular viewpoint being reinforced, they want it changed. Why have a process at all if they can stall or change it any time they want with moratorium measures or threats of other congressional actions?

The process is there and it works; they just don't like the results even though it addresses all their concerns. And you are as guilty as they are with your misleading one-sided set of statistics to try and justify an extremely parochial position.

For example, you use 700,000 acres in describing the amount of existing leased offshore acreage. Why not use the total number of tracts, which is 172? Perhaps it doesn't sound as alarming to your reader and therefore does not suit your purpose! Or why not let them know that out of the 1,887 tracts ever offered for lease since 1966 that only 14 are producing? And that small number has nothing to do with the price of oil today. It's the nature of the regulatory climate in California.

You try and use the oversupply of oil on today's market as well as today's price of oil as sound reasons to curtail further consideration of California's offshore area. Yet in other articles and editorials you acknowledge the dangers of both regarding the future!

And if that's not bad enough, you somehow try to say that because California is the fourth largest producer of oil and gas today it therefore is already providing its share. It could be the largest producer and that still wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that you need oil and gas and pursue it where ever it is.

I'm afraid that you and the moratorium proponents do not have the best interest of Californians or the region at heart. At least your stated positions and rationale leave no doubt.



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