After the Deepwater Horizon explosion, California's governor has terminated another drilling project. (image: Rossco)

This is a pretty big deal, with a sitting Governor affirmatively canceling a proposed offshore drilling project in the wake of the oil gusher spewing black sludge into the Gulf of Mexico. Arnold Schwarzenegger just withdrew his support of the controversial Tranquillon Ridge project, which would have allowed new drilling off the coast of Santa Barbara in exchange for a future promise of shutting down oil platforms in the area.

The T-Ridge project is somewhat complicated – a few environmentalists in the Santa Barbara area actually support it – but when asked if an oil spill the likes of what is happening in the Gulf could take place in California, Schwarzenegger said “That will not happen”. Asked why he is withdrawing his support of the project, he said simply, “why would we want to take that risk?”

Schwarzenegger is only the latest politician to move away from offshore drilling in the aftermath of the BP disaster. Charlie Crist and even Marco Rubio have equivocated on their support in Florida. Bill Nelson, who supported the President’s proposed expansion of drilling, now has introduced legislation to put a moratorium on it. Today on a conference call, Dick Durbin, a key ally of the President, said that offshore drilling would be “an issue reconsidered by many.” He insisted that the best place to turn for our energy future is “our renewable resources.”

Despite Sarah Palin “wanting our country to be able to trust the oil industry,” politicians throughout the country are throwing in the towel.

UPDATE: For a good look at the complexity of this issue try right here with John Myers. The next logical step for environmentalists who wanted to make this deal for new drilling in exchange for the eventual dismantling of four platforms in the Pacific is to now call for that dismantling anyway. After all, the Governor said a disaster like the BP spill “would never happen in California.” Tell him to prove it.

David Dayen

David Dayen