Watching the deadly oil spill unfold in the Gulf of Mexico, many people are back-pedaling from their prior support of the PXP offshore drilling proposal, reminded that new drilling and accelerated extraction isn’t worth the risk.

Let’s be perfectly clear about the risks: The deal lets PXP drill more wells now, extract more oil faster, then get out. Drill more, faster, now. But, as the State Lands Commission found when they rejected this proposal last year, drilling more wells to accelerate oil extraction increases the risk of a disaster.

This deal appears dead, but as part of the post-mortem, lets look at how our Assembly candidates handled this difficult issue.

Susan Jordan did a thorough assessment of the agreement, established that it wasn’t enforceable, and made the difficult decision to oppose, even though it hurt her politically and put her in conflict with some longtime friends.

In contrast, Das Williams jumped into the race to exploit a split in the environmental community, and threw his support behind new drilling based on exploiting a political opportunity, rather than any personal research on the issue.

Looking at how Susan handled this exceedingly difficult issue tells us a lot about her commitment to doing what is right, even when it’s difficult. She demonstrated exactly the combination of guts, integrity and leadership that we need in Sacramento during these difficult times.

The difference between her response to this deal and that of her opponent is the difference between being a leader or a follower. Given the challenges facing California right now, I think we need a leader.—Paul Mason, Sacramento (The writer served as a Sierra Club lobbyist covering coastal issues, 2002-2009.)


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