THIS MORNING Secretary Hickel and I met and discussed the pollution of the California coastline in the wake of the Santa Barbara tragedy. Our conversation ranged beyond the current situation. It included discussion of how to prevent such occurrences in the future.
Acting at his recommendation, I have today directed the President's Science Adviser, Dr. DuBridge, to bring together at the earliest possible time a panel of scientists and engineers. They will recommend to me ways and means in which the Federal Government can best and most rapidly assist in restoring the beaches and waters around Santa Barbara. They will also submit their views as to how best to prevent this kind of sudden and massive oil pollution.
The obligation to develop our natural resources carries with it the duty to protect our human resources. This country can no longer afford to squander valuable time before developing answers to pollution and oil slicks from wells, tankers, or any other source. Every method in existing technology must be developed to control and remove oil pollution. We must also identify those avenues of research where resources will be most profitably committed in solving this problem. These considerations will be among the issues taken up by the group which Dr. DuBridge will assemble.
Secondly, Secretary Hickel has recommended, and I have endorsed completely, a full-scale review within his department with regard to existing regulations covering such drilling.
His own preliminary review has disclosed there were substantial disagreements in his department as to the adequacy of the existing regulations at the time they were prepared. Questions were also raised as to the wisdom of the original decision to allow drilling to begin off Santa Barbara.
In retrospect those reservations were right and will be taken into account in the full-scale review the Secretary has initiated.
Its ultimate purpose will be twofold: To determine the adequacy of existing regulations for all wells licensed in past years now operating off the coast of the United States.
Secondly, to produce far more stringent and effective regulations that will give us better assurance than the Nation now has that crises of this kind will not recur.
The findings of Dr. DuBridge's panel will be made available to Secretary Hickel for inclusion in his review.