Why Now

It wasn’t Councilmembers Das Williams and Helene Schneider who were politicizing the issue of federal offshore oil leases, but their not-very-collegial colleague, Dale Francisco [Angry Poodle, “Zombie Dog Death Wish,” 9/17/09].

Mr. Francisco implied that asking the city to submit a letter opposing proposed new drilling in the Santa Barbara Channel was a political stunt. Apparently, Mr. Francisco is ignorant of federal environmental laws. When new policies are proposed, there is a comment period, with a deadline, to allow public input into policy decisions.

The comment deadline for the new drilling program-which proposes new lease sites in our own Santa Barbara Channel-was September 21. That is why the item was on the agenda, and why I was there to support sending a letter. (Mr. Francisco also revealed his ignorance by claiming that the subject was outside the city’s jurisdiction. In fact, all parties are welcome to submit comments, including municipalities with a stake in the policies being formulated.)

I cannot think of a community with more reason to comment on this issue. The City of Santa Barbara has an obligation, especially given our history, to try to influence federal policies on oil drilling off our own shores. Santa Barbara County had voted just a few weeks before to send a similar letter-the County Board of Supervisors recognized this need, and the city logically followed suit.

Councilmembers Williams and Schneider were acting as responsible, knowledgeable representatives of a community that has long and staunchly opposed new drilling. They should be applauded for staying on top of the issue and understanding the procedures involved. Too bad Mr. Francisco doesn’t seem to have done the same. - Lee E. Heller, board of directors, Get Oil Out!

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