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Plan to allow rigs off East Coast, Alaska called 'temporary reprieve' for California

California got a reprieve from President Barack Obama's move Wednesday dramatically expanding offshore oil and natural gas drilling along the nation's coasts.

But North Coast environmentalists, Rep. Lynn Woolsey, and an oil industry official all found fault with Obama's first major step into the politically charged, 30-year-old issue.

"California remains in as much jeopardy as ever," said Richard Charter of Bodega Bay, a veteran anti-drilling lobbyist.

Obama's drilling plan, which runs through 2017, opens new areas of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans and the Gulf of Mexico to drilling while leaving the Pacific untouched, thus giving California a "temporary reprieve," Charter said.

"After 2017, all bets are off," said Charter, consultant to Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, an environmental lobbying group.

Woolsey, D-Petaluma, a longtime drilling foe, said she was happy the West Coast was "spared for the time being," but found Obama's plan "really disappointing."

"2017 is just around the corner. We all know that," she said.

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Association, said she was encouraged by Obama's recognition of the need to develop "conventional oil and gas energy resources available to all Americans, right here at home."

But she said the 28-member trade association was disappointed by Obama's decision to continue excluding California's "resource-rich" waters from energy development.

A congressional moratorium on offshore oil drilling, in place since 1982, lapsed during the 2008 presidential campaign that included Republican demands to "drill now" and was augmented by public frustration over $4-a-gallon gasoline.

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