Dear Gov. Schwarzenegger,

As recently retired Santa Barbara County supervisors, with 28 accumulated years of service, we write to you to strenuously object to the Aug. 26 3-2 decision by the board majority to request that you approve expanded oil and gas drilling off our shores.

This misguided, ill-advised and factually erroneous decision undermines decades of opposition to new leasing and drilling off Santa Barbara County and the state of California. Each of us was affected by the 1969 catastrophe in the Santa Barbara Channel that devastated our tourist and fishing industries. It took many years for our wildlife and coastline to recover, as well as our local economy.

Offshore drilling remains an extremely hazardous activity despite industry attempts at improvements since 1969. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has just accepted a settlement from Exxon-Mobil of $2.64 million for allowing nearly 400 gallons of highly toxic PCB fluids to leak for two years on Platform Hondo in the Santa Barbara Channel from 2002 to 2005. These cancer-causing PCBs contaminated workers and can remain in our environment for decades.

We commend and agree with your stated position that “the direction we need to go in, and where California is already headed, is toward greater innovation in new technologies and new fuel choices for consumers.” And we deeply appreciate Secretary Chrisman’s remarks in The New York Times (“California County’s Resolve Against Drilling Fades,” Aug. 27) that indicate that your opposition to offshore oil drilling off the California coast remains unchanged and unaffected by the recent Board of Supervisors request.

Thank you for your continued leadership on this issue.

Naomi Schwartz, Susan Rose and Gail Marshall
Former Santa Barbara County supervisors