The Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969 gave a shot in the arm to America’s environmental movement. Since 1981, there’s been a federal ban on offshore drilling. But there has not been another major spill of that kind in US waters. Memories are short, gasoline prices are sky high—and technology has improved. Tonight, does the moratorium have a future? On Reporter’s Notebook, George Carlin remembered by Harry Shearer.
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Offshore oil drilling is almost an abstract issue in California, except in Long Beach and Santa Barbara, where giant rigs dominate the scenery. Now the high price of gasoline has John McCain campaigning to end the federal moratorium on offshore drilling—in those states that approve it. Governor Schwarzenegger is opposed to the idea. State Democratic leaders today denounced it. But as many as 5.6 billion barrels of oil might be available off California—along with 10 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.