Santa Barbara County Planning Commission Rejects ExxonMobil’s Plan to Restart Offshore Platforms, Truck Oil

VICTORY! Santa Barbara Co. Planning Commissioners vote 3-2 against the plan for 24,800 trucks amid strong community opposition

Refugio State Beach
The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission voted yesterday (9/29) to deny ExxonMobil’s proposal to transport oil by tanker trucks along hazardous California highway so it can restart three drilling platforms off the Santa Barbara coast. The 3-2 initial vote came unexpectedly on Sept. 29, during the first of two days of scheduled public hearings on the project, and is expected to be followed Nov. 3 with a formal vote and findings recommending the Board of Supervisors deny the project.
ExxonMobil’s plan calls for up to 24,800 oil-filled truck trips per year on coastal Highway 101 and hazardous Route 166, 24 hours a day, to refineries for up to seven years or whenever a new coastal oil pipeline is completed, whichever is shorter. ExxonMobil’s three offshore platforms off Refugio Beach on the Gaviota Coast were shut down in 2015 after the Plains All American Pipeline ruptured and spilled thousands of gallons of oil along the California coast.

“Restarting these 40-year-old platforms, beyond their max 35-year life, with a history of corrosion and spills, puts our entire coastline at risk,” said Katie Davis, chair of the Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter, which also submitted a petition, signed by more than 2,000 people, opposing the project. “Offshore oil is so risky even Republican states like Florida have fought off offshore oil development. It’s why 7,500 businesses and 90 cities on the Pacific coast are on record opposing offshore oil.”

The revised final supplemental environmental impact report considered by the commission concludes there would be significant, unavoidable impacts from the project, including significant impacts on wildlife and cultural resources in the event of an oil spill from a tanker truck. The document fails to analyze the numerous harmful impacts of bringing Exxon’s offshore platforms back online. The Planning Commission’s recommended denial of the project will go to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors for a final county decision.

The coalition opposing ExxonMobil’s trucking plan includes Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation, 350 Santa Barbara, the Center for Biological Diversity, Climate First: Replacing Oil and Gas (CFROG), Environmental Defense Center, Food and Water Action, GOO!, SBCAN, Sierra Club’s Los Padres Chapter, UCSB Associated Students External Vice President for Statewide Affairs Esmeralda Quintero-Cubillan, UCSB Environmental Affairs Board (EAB), Surfrider Foundation Santa Barbara County Chapter, Los Padres ForestWatch, the Goleta Goodland Coalition, the Cuyama Valley Community Association and the Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation.


Watch: Sierra Club Organizer Mercedes Macias speak out against the Exxon oil trucking plan.