A battle is brewing over oil drilling off the coast of California, and the controversy is likely to become an issue in the 2000 presidential race. Federal officials are expected this month to give oil companies permission to develop 40 offshore oil leases. California Gov. Gray Davis (D), California Sens. Barbara Boxer (D) and Dianne Feinstein (D), and other state lawmakers are already working to avert the drilling. Several hurdles still lie ahead for the oil industry: the California Coastal Commission has power to challenge oil development in federal waters; agencies from the U.S. EPA to the local air pollution control district will have a say on the matter; and any decision could be appealed to the Commerce Secretary William Daley.