Your report (June 15) indicating that Interior Secretary Donald P. Hodel wants to eliminate California's limited influence over offshore oil rigs is alarming. Hodel is wrong in stating that the California Coastal Commission is "usurping" federal authority. It is outrageous for the secretary to suggest that the efforts of California to protect its coast is a threat to a "free society."
Since 1978 the Coastal Commission has approved 451 exploratory wells in federal waters. In addition, it has approved almost every development and production plan presented to it.
It is true that the Coastal Commission has insisted that offshore oil activity be conducted in such a way that "adverse environmental effects are mitigated to the maximum extent feasible." In fact, this is a requirement of the program approved by the federal government pursuant to the federal Coastal Zone Management Act. If an oil company believes commission requirements are too onerous, an appeal to the secretary of commerce is available.
California's coast is under attack by a Department of Interior that plans to lease every offshore tract it can. The real threat to our society comes from Secretary Hodel and his friends who want to be "free" to exploit publicly owned non-renewable resources as rapidly as possible, at fire-sale prices and without needed environmental protection.
A sensible comprehensive energy policy would encourage the wise and prudent use of oil and would emphasize conservation and the development of alternative energy sources. Hodel has no right to "usurp" California's coast for short-term gain. Thank goodness he will be out of office in a year and a half.
MELVIN L. NUTTER
Nutter is chairman of the League for Coastal Protection and former chairman of the California Coastal Commission (1983-1985).