NBC News: California Offshore Drilling Possible; CNBC Says Not Likely

It’s one of the few times one can wish the reporting by NBC News was right and CNBC was wrong.

A segment on the July 21 “NBC Nightly News” pointed out some of the key points of a budget deal reached between California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and leaders of the state legislature. The deal means some service cuts – but also includes the possibility of exploration and drilling for oil off the California coast.

California is our biggest state in terms of population and it long ago ran out of money,” “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams said. “They got nothing to pay the vendors they owe and now they have struck a deal for more cuts, and these are going to hurt. They’re going to allow offshore drilling for the money it will bring in. The LA Times reports tens of thousands of seniors and children would lose access to health care. Prisoners will spend less time in prison. And the governor is going to sell cars and furniture and office supplies and autograph some of it, he says, to raise more money. It’s an unbelievable turn of events.”

NBC correspondent Miguel Almaguer explained this is an unprecedented move for the state – despite the pushback caused by the earlier efforts to open up more of the U.S. coast for drilling.

“And to generate cash, the expansion of oil drilling off the coast near Santa Barbara – a move not seen off the Golden State scenic coast in 40 years,” Almaguer said.

Despite Almaguer’s report and corroboration by the July 21 Los Angeles Times, CNBC correspondent Jane Wells is very skeptical  that drilling off the coast of California will happen anytime soon. She was asked by CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report” host Larry Kudlow on his July 21 program about the possibility of “drill, drill, drill” in California.

“Now that would really be a California miracle, Larry,” Wells said. “According to the LA Times, there is something in this budget about exploring, drilling again off Santa Barbara. They were first talking about it a year ago when oil was high. When oil prices fell again, it went right off the table. The California Coastal Commission is very powerful and I would be really, really surprised. It’s more likely they will raise taxes than they will drill.”

Wall Street Journal editorial board member Steve Moore explained that Californians may have to ultimately accept oil exploration and drilling.

“You know, I want to add though, to this idea of drill, drill, drill,” Moore said. “Jane, I really think the only way out of this crisis is for Californians to realize if they want to raise the revenues to pay for all these social programs, they got $8 billion of revenues they can tap by developing their own resources right offshore. And, at some point liberals are going to have to decide in California – do they want all these social programs or are they not going to drill to get the money to pay for them.”