Bush Administration Rewrites Rules on Coastal Control

When it comes to offshore oil drilling, the Bush administration lost the battle but may well win the war. Earlier this year, a federal judge affirmed California’s right to review all offshore development plans, putting an end to efforts by the Bush administration to drill for oil in the waters off the Golden State. Now, the administration is quietly rewriting federal rules to curtail states’ rights to control what happens beyond their beaches. The proposed revisions to the 1972 Coastal Zone Management Act would eliminate the traditional deference given to state agencies on the environmental impacts of drilling and other proposed activities along their coastlines, and would instead position federal agencies, not state ones, as the ranking experts. States are not taking the changes lying down, however, and a letter signed by 91 members of Congress called them a “pernicious assault on states’ rights.”