Environment

‘Hell no. No more oil drilling’: Activists protest ExxonMobil’s Central Coast drilling plan

More than 100 people attend an environmental-scoping hearing for Mobil Exxon’s proposal to start trucking crude oil from its Las Flores Canyon facility on the Gaviota Coast.
More than 100 people attend an environmental-scoping hearing for Mobil Exxon’s proposal to start trucking crude oil from its Las Flores Canyon facility on the Gaviota Coast.

Dozens of anti-oil activists showed up Wednesday to protest ExxonMobil’s application to restart oil production off the Gaviota Coast, and truck the oil to Santa Maria and Maricopa in Kern County.

Several organizations and individuals rallied outside the Santa Barbara County Administration Building shouting down ExxonMobil prior to a California Environmental Quality Act scoping hearing for the project.

“This proposal is a disaster waiting to happen; no trucking way,” said Blake Kopcho, an organizer for the Center for Biological Diversity. “Exxon is delusional. No ExxonMobil. No drilling. No pipeline. No trucks. Shut it all down. Keep it in the ground.”

Linda Krop, attorney for the Environmental Defense Center, said the South Coast is “one of the worst areas to have an oil spill.”

“It’s a horrible place to have any oil development, much less 70 truck trips a day,” Krop said. “These three platforms do frack and acidize. It is an extremely dangerous project.”

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ExxonMobil wants to conduct a “phased restart” of its Santa Ynez Unit oil production based at Las Flores Canyon on the Gaviota Coast.

All of southern Santa Barbara County’s offshore oil platform production has been stalled since the transportation pipeline, owned by Plains All American Pipeline, ruptured and caused the Refugio Oil Spill on May 19, 2015.

ExxonMobil has three platforms – Heritage, Harmony and Hondo – that feed into Las Flores Canyon facility, which lies about 10 miles west of Goleta. The oil was then shipped north using the Plains pipelines.

Since the pipeline is closed, the company wants to restart oil production and is seeking a permit for up to seven years, or until a pipeline alternative is available.

The proposal calls for the production of 10,000 to 12,000 barrels per day, and up to 70 tanker trucks per 24-hour period.

Alena Simon, an organizer with Food and Water Watch, spoke in opposition to the proposal.

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“We’re not looking to negotiate a deal,” Simon said. “We are not looking for a win-win; we are saying hell no. No more oil drilling onshore or offshore. We will oppose your pipelines. We will oppose your oil.”

ExxonMobil submitted an application in September 2017, and the county deemed it complete in February. The Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors will take up the matter in the spring of 2019.

The EIR will look at issues such as air quality, greenhouse gases and transportation impacts at intersections.

In a statement from ExxonMobil, the company said that temporary trucking will support local jobs.

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“We continue to evaluate options, including temporary trucking, as part of a phased approach to resume safe operations and revenue to the community,” the statement said. “Until a pipeline option becomes available, temporary trucking would support local jobs and the economy, and bring revenue to Santa Barbara County.

“The Santa Ynez Valley school districts, local emergency services, infrastructure and other public services benefit from oil and gas tax revenues.”

The truck deliveries would be safe, according to ExxonMobil.

“Routes for the transportation of oil and gas by truck are proposed and planned with safety in mind and must be approved by the county. We will provide the county with an extensive transportation safety plan.”

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at jmolina@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.
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