5/3/10 Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today withdrew his support for a plan he championed to allow new offshore oil drilling off Santa Barbara County, citing the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Schwarzenegger, whose administration as recently as Friday defended the proposed Tranquillon Ridge offshore drilling project, said images of the spill in the Gulf changed his mind.

"All of you have seen, when you turn on the television, the devastation in the Gulf, and I'm sure that they also were assured that it was safe to drill," he said at a news conference today. "I see on TV the birds drenched in oil, the fisherman out of work, the massive oil spill and oil slick destroying our precious ecosystem. That will not happen here in California, and this is why I am withdrawing my support for the T-Rridge project."

His new stance all but guarantees the demise of the proposal by a Texas oil company to allow the first new drilling in state waters in 40 years.

The governor had previously argued that the state, which is currently facing a $20 billion budget shortfall, should approve the plan to raise as much as $100 million a year in new revenue.

The plan would allow Plains Exploration & Production Co. (PXP) of Houston to use an existing oil platform in federal waters to drill just over the line in state waters. The plan included an agreement by Plains to shut down all operations in the area after 14 years.

"My support for the T-Ridge project in California was based on numerous studies making me feel it was safe to drill ... and a commitment to remove the platforms," Schwarzenegger said at the news conference, which largely focused on wildfire protection.

"If I have a choice between $100 million and what you area see in the Gulf of Mexico, I'd rather just find out a way to make up for that $100 million," he said. "(When) you turn on television and see the enormous disaster, you say to yourself, why would we want to take that risk? The risk is just much greater than the money is worth, and so we will figure out how to deal with the extra $100 million problem."

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