Santa Barbara County supervisors on Tuesday voted 3 to 2 in favor of allowing offshore drilling along their coastline — a move that has no practical impacts, but is rich with symbolism. The southern California county was hit with a devastating 3-million-gallon crude oil spill from an offshore platform in 1969; it coated beaches, killed wildlife, and helped to kick-start the modern environmental movement. While the vote will do nothing to change congressional and state policy, it shows how attitudes are changing in the face of high gas prices. Fifty-one percent of Californians now say they approve of offshore drilling, up from 41 percent last year, according to polling conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) supports Congress’ moratorium on offshore drilling, but the three supervisors who voted in favor of drilling are urging “The Governator” to reconsider, arguing that new technologies make offshore drilling much safer. Opponents say the supervisors are getting their info from faulty studies and point out that new offshore drilling won’t actually lower gas prices anytime soon.
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