When residents of Malibu and Oxnard last year were successfully rallying to defeat a proposal to build a liquefied natural gas terminal off the local coast, Assemblyman Lloyd Levine was at their side.
Less than three years earlier, however, Levine was expressing a different view to the U.S. Coast Guard and the State Lands Commission, one of the two state agencies that ultimately rejected the proposal.
A letter from Levine dated Nov. 26, 2004 -- sent to me by the campaign of former Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, Levine's opponent in the 23rd Senate District primary -- urges the commission "to facilitate the permitting and construction of the Cabrillo Port project in the timeliest manner."
The letter could be damaging material for a Democrat running in a district that includes Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Malibu and Santa Monica.
When I asked Levine about it this week, he said the letter was sent out by his office in error. "It was written by a staff member and went out without my approval. We've changed the procedures in my office" he said. "It didn't go out with my approval, and I take responsibility for that."
Levine, chairman of the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Commission, said his position is that California does not need to import natural gas from abroad because the state has ample pipeline capacity to deliver enough gas from Canada and other states to meet its demand.
Still, that letter is on his official Assembly letterhead and bears his signature. Don't be surprised if a copy of the letter -- or at least excerpts from it -- shows up soon in the mailboxes of Democratic voters along the coast.