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Oil Drilling Off California Coast Blocked

A federal appeals court upheld a ruling Monday halting oil and natural gas exploration off California´s central coast.

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal says the area can´t be drilled or explored until the California Coastal Commission approves the plan.

The decision blocks any attempt to build the first new oil platforms off California´s coast since 1994.

The proposed developments were off the coast of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

California sued to block the exploration in 1999 — days after President Clinton´s Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt extended petroleum companies´ offshore leases for ten years.

The suit contended Babbitt´s decision was subject to review by the state.

It said the Coastal Zone Management Act gave California the right to determine whether offshore drilling is consistent with its coastal protection plan.