George Skelton makes the case that Californians should “let go of the past and allow offshore oil drilling” in the Los Angeles Times:

California is the nation’s biggest consumer of gasoline — 45 million gallons a day, plus 10 million gallons of diesel. That makes us the third-biggest petroleum-consuming entity in the world, behind only the United States and China. We are the nation’s No. 3 oil-producing state, behind Texas and Alaska.

But California produces only 39% of the crude oil it uses. An additional 16% comes from Alaska and the remaining 45% is bought from foreign sources, according to the California Energy Commission.

So there’s a gusher of hypocrisy here: The state that is the biggest consumer of gasoline in the nation — but produces less than 40% of what it uses — is opposed to drilling for more oil off its shores. We’re slackers not pulling our weight. The continental shelf off California contains an estimated 10 billion barrels of crude oil, according to the U.S. Minerals Management Service.

Offshore exploration opponents point out that if the federal drilling ban were lifted today, there’d be no immediate effect on gasoline prices. It could take 10 years to get any crude to the gas pump. Fine. Most people driving today still will be 10 years from now.

Environmentally, drilling is much safer than in 1969. There are new technologies. The rigs are ugly? They mar the sunset? That’s an elitist attitude we no longer can afford.