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Controller Davis Joins Opposition to Oil Drilling in Pacific Palisades

Times Staff Writer

State Controller Gray Davis signed up with the campaign against oil drilling in Pacific Palisades by the Occidental Petroleum Corp. Thursday, but would not join in attacks on the figures used by Occidental to contend that drilling will pay for added police officers.

Davis was named a co-chairman of the campaign behind Proposition O, the measure sponsored by Los Angeles Councilmen Zev Yaroslavsky and Marvin Braude to prohibit new drilling within 1,000 yards of any Los Angeles beach.

A rival measure, Proposition P, is sponsored by Occidental and others who support drilling at a site in the Palisades along Pacific Coast Highway. Both Proposition O and P will be on the Nov. 8 ballot in Los Angeles.

Davis, whose position as controller also makes him chairman of the State Lands Commission, said if Los Angeles voters decide it is appropriate to drill for oil along the coast, the commission will have a harder time fighting offshore oil exploration.

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“This vote has consequences for the entire coast,” said Davis, who also warned there could be danger from accidents and fires at the Occidental site.

But at a Thursday press conference Davis chose not to join Yaroslavsky in challenging claims by Occidental’s backers that Proposition P would lead to the city of Los Angeles collecting about $250 million in oil revenue over 20 years.

Disavows Press Release

A press release delivered to The Times by the Proposition O campaign attributed several remarks to Davis that attacked Occidental’s money claims. But in a later interview Davis said he had not approved the wording and does not consider himself expert enough on city financial matters to comment.

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The money issue has come up frequently during the increasingly bitter campaign over whether to allow Occidental to drill after 20 years of seeking approval. Backers of Proposition P, the Occidental initiative, contend that their measure will lead to the city collecting up to $215 million during the 20 to 30 years of oil drilling that the firm anticipates.

Occidental says that figure is based on finding 60 million barrels of oil beneath Pacific Palisades and on a sharp increase in world oil and natural gas prices.

But Yaroslavsky and Braude said that the potential income to the city is vastly exaggerated. They contend that the oil field Occidental hopes to tap may contain far less than 60 million barrels, that the price of oil may go down before it goes up, and that even under the rosiest estimate the income of $10 million a year will not be noticed in the $3-billion city budget.


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