The Minerals Management Service is holding a hearing in San Francisco today on the proposed draft program for the 2010-2015 Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Leasing Program. An overflow crowd has packed an auditorium on UCSF Mission Bay campus to hear statements from lawmakers, policy experts, and activists. 

Sen. Barbara Boxer and California Lt. Gov. John Garamendi kicked off the hearing expressing their staunch opposition to any form of drilling. Boxer’s commentary consisted almost entirely of appeals to emotion and irrationality. Both Boxer and Garamendi focused heavily on the Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969.

What Boxer and Garamendi failed to mention is that new technologies and techniques have been developed in the decades since that, had they been employed in ’69, would have prevented that catastrophe. They also failed to mention, conveniently enough, that less than 1% of oil found in ocean waters is due to oil exploration. In fact, most oil found in the water, 62% to be specific, is the result of natural seepage from tectonic plates. 

John Adams once said that "facts are stubborn things." Boxer and Garamendi get around this by simply ignoring them.

For frequent updates on the hearing throughout the day, follow ATR’s California State Affairs Manager on twitter: @patrickmgleason.

ATR has submitted testimony in favor of expanding offshore drilling as way to provide relief to overlyburdened Golden State taxpayers. Scroll down to read ATR’s testimony:



Statement of Patrick M. Gleason
California State Affairs Manager, Americans for Tax Reform
Minerals Management Service Hearing:
Proposed 5-Year Outer Continental Shelf Leasing Program
April 16, 2009
Good day, my name is Patrick Gleason and I serve as California’s state affairs manager for Americans for Tax Reform, a non-profit taxpayer advocacy organization. I would like to thank the Minerals Management Service for providing the opportunity to comment on the development of the new 5-Year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Leasing Program.
Let me start by saying that concerns about the safety and cleanliness of offshore drilling are simply not based in reality or on the facts. Technological advancements have made offshore drilling one of the most environmentally safe forms of energy development. It is certainly more environmentally sensitive than importing from supertankers. Memories of the 1969 Santa Barbara disaster still stir strong emotions throughout this state, and rightfully so. However, Energy companies have since developed and now employ devices and techniques that would have prevented the Santa Barbara mishap, had they been available at that time.
But the main point that I would like to convey today is why full development of offshore energy resources is of the utmost importance to California’s economy and fiscal health. It is no secret that California is in a grave fiscal state due to decades of out of control spending. Facing a $42 billion budget deficit over the next 18 months, California lawmakers once again put taxpayers on the hook for the  state’s overspending habit by raising by billions of dollars the state income, sales and car taxes in February. This comes, despite the fact that Californians already pay the highest sales and marginal income tax rates in the nation.
The deleterious effects of these tax increases are already being realized. The state legislature’s budget analyst recently reported that revenue derived from these taxes will fall short of projections by approximately $8 billion, putting taxpayers once again in the crosshairs. To make matters worse, if Proposition 1A passes next month, California taxpayers will see yet another $16 billion in new levies. As it stands, Californians work 204 days out of the year, well over half of the year, just to pay for the cost of their government. This is not sustainable governance. Taxpayers and employers are fleeing the state, taking jobs, revenue, and skills with them.
Let me be clear, the primary cause of California’s budgetary woes is unchecked overspending and profligacy on the part of state officials. However, given the current lack of political will to address this systemic problem, aggressive exploration and utilization of the resources found in the OCS is perhaps the single most effective measure to help quash the year after year assault on California taxpayers and employers.
Development of offshore energy resources that had previously been off limits would generate $1.7 trillion in local, state, and federal tax revenue and development of all U.S. oil and natural gas resources could yield more than $4 trillion over the life of the resources. With upwards of 10 billion barrels of oil available in the waters off of the California coast, the Golden State stands to gain as much as any state from a sensible, “all of the above”, energy development plan. Greater state and federal profit sharing will serve to heighten this monetary benefit even further. Most importantly though, the substantial injection of revenue that would be provided to California will help to mitigate the prospect of further tax increase proposals on the already overly burdened California taxpayers.  
Furthermore, unemployment in this state has been on the rise and shows no sign of abating, especially in light of the massive tax increases recently passed. With one of the worst business tax climates in the country, California is simply not an attractive place to invest and create jobs right now. Development of the energy resources found in California waters would provide the state with desperately needed jobs. Estimates show that development of previously off-limits energy supplies would create 160,000 new jobs.
As you continue to weigh input on the matter of drilling in the OCS, I urge you to keep in mind that exploration and procurement to the fullest extent possible of the vast petroleum and natural gas reserves found in the OCS is the conclusion that will provide the greatest benefit to taxpayers and the economy as a whole. California, more than any other state, has the most to gain from utilization of our offshore resources. 
I thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important and do not hesitate to contact me with any further questions.