In a triumph for Golden State environmentalists, the Bush administration decided yesterday against asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn two lower court decisions upholding California’s right to review proposed offshore drilling projects along its coast. Gov. Gray Davis (D) hailed the decision, noting, “The future of California beaches is now where it should be — in the hands of Californians. This is a huge victory for California and every other coastal state in the nation.” California citizens and politicians have strongly opposed offshore drilling ever since a 1969 oil spill polluted the beaches of Santa Barbara, but in the last few decades, 36 federal oil leases have been granted along the central California coast. With yesterday’s news, the state now has the authority to deny new leases — but the fate of the existing ones remains in question, with California pushing for the feds to buy them back.

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