Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley asked a congressional subcommittee Wednesday to continue a federal ban on Santa Monica Bay oil drilling even though he approved drilling adjacent to the bay in Pacific Palisades.
"Inland oil exploration in the Pacific Palisades does not--and should not--diminish in any way the City of Los Angeles' unyielding opposition to offshore drilling in the Santa Monica Bay," Bradley told the House subcommittee on Interior Department appropriations.
Bradley used the committee as a platform in his continuing effort to defuse environmentalists' and Palisades residents' opposition to his decision in favor of Occidental Petroleum Corp.'s drilling.
Only one subcommittee member was present to hear Bradley. But he was the chairman, Sidney Yates (D-Ill.), and Los Angeles lobbyist James Seeley said he expected Yates to be a powerful force in extending the one-year moratorium on offshore bay drilling. The subcommittee plays a major role in approval of legislation that would accomplish that.
Bradley devoted a substantial part of his testimony to the Occidental issue, evidence that the controversy remains a major political problem for him.
While Bradley leads his mayoral reelection rival, Councilman John Ferraro, by a large margin in public opinion surveys, aides have said that statewide environmental criticism could hurt him if he makes another run at the governorship in 1986.
Opponents of the Occidental drilling project, in trying unsuccessfully to persuade the mayor to veto it, had argued that if Bradley approved it he would make it more difficult to keep the offshore moratorium. On Wednesday, he gave his most detailed explanation so far of why he believes the Palisades situation differs from offshore bay drilling. The four major differences, he said, were:
- "There is absolutely no risk of oil spills or leaks contaminating our beaches" from the Palisades site, which is on the inland side of Pacific Coast Highway, while offshore drilling entails "substantial and frightening" risks of pollution.
- Occidental will not drill into the pool of oil under the bay. Deputy Mayor Tom Houston said that statement is based on geologists' beliefs that the Occidental and the offshore oil pools are separate.
- The state, in exercising its option to drill for oil in the tidelands, could avoid offshore drilling under a provision of the Occidental permit. Houston said the provision requires Occidental to slant drill into the tidelands from the Occidental site. Thus, Bradley said, if the federal moratorium is continued, "we have, in effect, further safeguarded the bay against any drilling--state or federal."
- The Occidental permit requires camouflaging of drill sites and other measures that Bradley said would protect the environment--"safeguards that the Department of Interior has refused to adopt except when threatened with legal action."
Bradley strongly criticized the Interior Department for failing to obey legislation requiring it to negotiate with state and local officials on the offshore drilling issue.
Yates, expressing surprise, said he would call Interior Secretary Donald P. Hodel and urge him to talk to Bradley.
Bradley accused the Interior Department of making a "headlong rush toward indiscriminate leasing."
"I note with considerable apprehension that . . . Donald Hodel has already indicated his strong interest in drilling areas now protected by the moratorium," Bradley said. "And he has indicated his interest at a time when the world is awash in oil and offshore tracts are being sold at bargain-basement prices."
Meanwhile, Bradley challenger Ferraro continued to try to turn environmental concerns to his advantage by attacking Bradley's record. Earlier this week, he made his second accusation that the mayor had delayed cleanup of an illegal toxic dump site.
Bradley in 1980 vetoed $15,000 appropriated by the City Council to clean up residential yards near Capri Pumping Services in Boyle Heights.
Ferraro on Tuesday called Bradley's veto "a terrible shame. The fact that he vetoed the funds shows the callousness of the mayor." However, city records show that Ferraro voted to sustain the veto.
A Bradley campaign spokesman said the main reason for the veto was "the mayor thought Capri owners should be responsible for the cleanup costs."