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Bush Could Let Offshore Oil Leases Expire

June 25, 2002

Re "Bush Helps Simon on Oil Issue," June 20: There is a simple way to protect California's coast from new offshore oil drilling. President Bush could decide right away to drop his administration's appeal of a federal judge's order freezing all activities on the 36 old oil leases in federal waters and to let the leases expire. This could be done legally without paying any compensation to the oil companies.

The effect would be to protect California's coast without making taxpayers foot the bill. Bush has taken no such action, even though it is directly within his power. Just the opposite; the Bush administration is fighting in court against Gov. Gray Davis' administration's efforts to halt the 36 oil leases. If there is to be any finger-pointing on offshore oil, the finger should point straight at the White House.

Drew Caputo

Senior Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council

San Francisco

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