Environment 9-18

Congress approved a bill that would allow limited new offshore oil leases off the U.S. coast in all federal waters 100 miles off the coast and 50 miles off the coast in states open to new oil production. Democrats reluctantly proposed the bill-which would lift 1989’s federal moratorium on California coast oil leases-in response to intense political pressure generated by record prices at the gas pump. Republicans blasted the bill, however, contending new drilling must be closer to shore. Democratic congressmember Lois Capps voted against it, claiming it sold out the cost. Republican Elton Gallegly also opposed it, arguing it didn’t do enough.(/oil918)

A forum held on 9/11 by various agencies participating in the Gap Fire clean-up effort allowed members of the public to pose questions. Topics discussed included the presence of burned areas in Goleta’s watershed tributaries and resulting complications, topsoil preservation efforts, the need for Goleta residents to get flood insurance, and a proposed tiered warning system from the National Weather Service that would alert Goleta about possible flash floods. (/gap918)

A four-year-old California condor died of lead poisoning last week near Big Sur, the first of the endangered birds to suffer this fate since Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Assemblymember Pedro Nava’s bill outlawing the use of lead ammunition by hunters tracking game in wilderness designated as Condor Country. Condors scavenge and are therefore vulnerable to lead pellets in carcasses left behind by hunters.

Santa Barbara County’s red-legged frogs could see their critical habitat increased from 123,000 acres to 180,000 if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s latest proposal-issued this week-is adopted. Statewide, the feds initially proposed 4.1 million acres as critical habitat for the red-legged frog, but various factors reduced that figure to 180,000. (/frog918)

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