Onshore Jobs, Offshore Oil

I am writing in response to the article (Editorial Pages, Feb. 17), by Secretary of the Interior Donald P. Hodel "Onshore Jobs Come Wtih Offshore Oil."

First of all, I think it's important to note that Hodel has a new job in addition to running the Department of the Interior. It is obvious to this reader that Hodel has been hired by the oil and gas industry as their lobbyist and flunky with the charge to dupe the people of California in thinking that offshore oil development will be developed in an environmentally sensitive manner and produce hundreds of thousands of jobs for the state. This just isn't true. Hodel omitted a number of very important facts from his highly biased article.

Hodel neglected to mention the 1979 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which resulted in a revenue loss of $355 million to coastal communities in the state of Texas. Is this the kind of economic development Hodel wishes for California in selling our coastline?

Hodel forgot to mention that in Orange County alone there are 105,000 jobs created by the tourist industry. Would offshore oil development be able to replace those jobs?

Hodel forgot to mention that there are 30 million visitors to Orange County every year who came here in part because of the beautiful beaches, pristine vistas and relatively clean air along the coast.

Hodel neglected to mention that every offshore oil rig produces as much nitrogen oxide as 20,000 new cars driving 50 miles per day. This level of air pollution will not be tolerated by the people of Orange County and the state of California.

Hodel also forgot to mention the 12,000 gallons of crude oil that was spilled in the Los Angeles harbor in May through a faulty drain valve at the Mobil Oil dock. Is this the kind of job-producing economy and environment the people of California are requesting?

Hodel ought to read the polls that show the vast majority of Californians and Orange Countians are extremely concerned about offshore oil development and frankly don't want it along the coast of Orange County.

As a council member in a tourist-driven community, I am appalled at the lack of caring and concern for the environment and the ongoing business community of the coast that Hodel reflects. The City of Laguna Beach hosts 3 million visitors a year; that's our business, our only business. Would those 3 million tourists each year come to the coast and enjoy the beaches if Hodel's oil rigs were outside their hotel windows and dining tables along the Pacific Coast?

Why doesn't he interview the owners of the Ritz Carlton Hotel or the Surf and Sand Hotel or the owners of Las Brisas Restaurant in Laguna Beach and see if these business people will feel the surge to the economy that comes with offshore oil development?

I remember well Hodel's visit to the Orange County coast in August. I was there. The secretary of the Interior-turned-oil-lobbyist presented the audience with a slick slide show depicting the oil industry as charter Sierra Club members who would never do anything to damage the beauty and the recreational resources of the California coast. His "trust me" attitude, "I know what's best for you," appalled me.

As the For Sale signs go up along the beaches of Orange County and the oil industry comes along to buy those beaches, Hodel will have a new title "Ocean Real Estate Agent." This elected official will not take it sitting down. It's time for every citizen in Orange County to put their boxing gloves on and join me in the ring with the Department of Interior and the oil and gas industry.

ROBERT GENTRY

Laguna Beach

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