Perata blames governor for slow response to oil spill

State Senate President pro Tem Don Perata (D-Oakland) charged today that California is poorly prepared to deal with oil spills because Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger hasn't made appointments to the regional water board or fully funded and staffed an oil spill prevention program.

Speaking at a news conference at the Middle Harbor Shoreline Park, which is located near Oakland's waterfront, Perata said Schwarzenegger didn't follow a recommendation by his Department of Finance in 2005 that the oil spill program have its funding and staffing boosted because it's drastically under-funded.

Perata also said that last month Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill authored by Perata that would have strengthened the state's nine regional water boards and made California's frontline enforcers of water laws more

effective and more accountable to the public.

Perata said nearly half of the seats on the state's regional water quality board are empty because Schwarzenegger hasn't filled them.

He said the San Francisco Regional Water Quality Board, which meets in Oakland, doesn't currently have enough members for a quorum and thus can't even meet to decide how to take action on the Cosco Busan spill, which dumped 58,000 gallons of toxic fuel into the San Francisco Bay last week.

Perata said he wants to raise the 5-cent-per-gallon fee the state currently imposes on oil companies, whom he called “polluters,” to provide more funds for the marine oil spill prevention program and fill 34 positions.

Spokespersons for Schwarzenegger weren't immediately available for comment.

— Bay City News

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