WASHINGTON — Twenty-eight members of California's congressional delegation complained today that the Interior Department's plans for drilling for oil and gas in federal waters off the state are inadequate to protect the environment.
The complaints came in formal comments filed with the Interior Department on the department's draft five-year plan for offshore exploration for the whole country. Secretary Donald P. Hodel has 60 days to respond to the comments and submit the plan to Congress. If Congress does not change it, the plan goes into effect.
Hodel's draft calls for opening 1,120 nine-square-mile tracts to drilling in areas off California that had been closed to oil companies in year-by-year drilling bans enacted in the early 1980s.
Release of the draft last month was accompanied by the final breakdown of negotiations with an 18-member team of senators and House members from California and other states. Congress last year asked the team to attempt to reach agreement with Hodel on what areas should be drilled.