Santa Barbara Rejects Offshore Oil Well Restart Plan – GV Wire

A bid by ExxonMobil to restart offshore oil wells off the California coast, which shut down in 2015 after a massive pipeline leak, was rejected on Tuesday due to lingering environmental concerns.

ExxonMobil’s request to set up temporary trucking routes to transport the oil – a crucial step to allow three idle 1980s rigs to resume production – was denied by the county board of supervisors of Santa Barbara by a vote of 3 to 2.

“We disagree with the decision, which does not take into account our employees, contractors and countless others working in California’s oil and gas industry who depend on these jobs to support the needs of their families,” ExxonMobil said in a statement. “ExxonMobil has met all requirements for issuance of the permit, which has been subject to extensive environmental review and public comment.”

Pipeline ruptured in 2015

A pipeline carrying oil to shore was shut down on May 19, 2015, when a corroded section above ground passing west of Santa Barbara ruptured, sending 140,000 gallons of oil onto a beach in ‘state and into the ocean. It was the worst coastal spill in 25 years.

ExxonMobil has proposed sending up to 24,820 tanker trucks a year on Coastal Route 101 and State Route 166 for seven years or until the pipeline is repaired or replaced. ExxonMobil argued that trucking was the only way to bring offshore crude to market so far and that the project would bring jobs and money to the region.

But two recent oil spills have renewed consideration of the issue. In May 2020, a tanker accident off State Route 166 spilled over 4,500 gallons of oil into the Cuyama River. And last October, an offshore pipeline rupture near Huntington Beach released at least 25,000 gallons of crude that closed beaches and wreaked deadly havoc on marine life along one of the world’s legendary surf breaks. .

Environmentalists applauded the decision to curb the trucking proposal.

“Exxon’s trucking proposal was a step in the wrong direction on climate and put Californians and our coastal resources at risk from spills, accidents, pollution and fires,” a statement from the Business Council said. studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Opponents cite environmental concerns

Californians have taken a closer look in recent years at the state’s oil and gas industry, which directly and indirectly supports more than 365,000 jobs and has an annual output of more than $150 billion, according to a study of data from 2017.

Climate change extends the threat of wildfires, droughts and tidal waves, and the state has positioned itself as a world leader in renewable energy and pioneering policies intended to slow global warming. The state plans to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars and trucks by 2035 and end oil production a decade later.

On Tuesday, opponents cited environmental concerns and oil industry workers said the approval would help keep well-paying jobs in the county.

Supervisor Steve Lavagnino said California is still years away from being able to phase out oil and gas in favor of alternative energy sources.

“The reality is this: even though we want this to happen, even though I voted for it to happen, it’s not there yet and we have to keep producing fossil fuels during the transition,” he said. he declared.

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