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Van de Kamp May Oppose Offshore Oil Plan in Court

July 04, 1987

California Atty. Gen. John K. Van de Kamp said Friday that he is considering challenging in court the new five-year plan for oil and gas leasing off the California coast approved by U.S. Interior Secretary Donald P. Hodel.

Such a challenge would have to be filed in federal Appeals Court in Washington by Sept. 1.

Van de Kamp issued a statement contending that Hodel's plan confirms what he termed the secretary's "drill-at-any-cost philosophy."

The attorney general also took issue with the recent statement of Hodel aide Bill Bettenberg labeling California "extreme" and not having "a mature outlook" for opposing oil drilling.

Van de Kamp's statement came one day after the U.S. Minerals Management Service announced that it was taking the first steps under the five-year plan to begin new oil and gas development off the Southern California coast.

Oil companies, environmentalists and others have 30 days to provide the service with nominations or objections of areas to be opened in Lease Sale 95, scheduled for September, 1989.

Not to be offered for sale, however, are environmentally sensitive areas excluded in the Hodel plan.

Among the excluded areas are Santa Monica Bay, the Santa Barbara Federal Ecological Preserve and Buffer Zone, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, coastal buffer zones offshore from Newport Beach and Irvine Coast Marine Life Refuges and Heisler Park. Also excluded are zones around Santa Catalina Island, as well as coastal buffers offshore from San Diego and La Jolla.

The five-year plan has been widely criticized by environmentalists and California lawmakers, who have charged that the exclusions do not protect enough ecologically sensitive areas. Despite the objections, the five-year plan went into effect this week because Congress did not vote to disapprove it.

The call by the U.S. Minerals Management Service for information and nominations precedes the preparation of a draft environmental impact statement and public hearings.

Minerals Management Service spokesman Fred Jacobs said remarks should be sent to the regional supervisor of the service's Office of Leasing and Environment, Pacific Region, 1340 West 6th St., Los Angeles, 90017.

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