Fighting Oil Expansion in Santa Barbara County

Opposing Oil Expansion

The Santa Barbara Sierra Club rallied against offshore oil after the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, and has been leading the charge against destructive drilling practices ever since.

For years we have been fighting oil company plans for dangerous expansion in risky and extreme oil extraction in Santa Barbara County. 

Steam-injection, steam-flooding and acidizing are unconventional extraction techniques that use toxic chemicals, extreme heat and pressure to break apart, dissolve and alter underground formations. They generate far more greenhouse gas emissions and pose greater risk to our water supplies, nearby crops, our air, our health and ecosystems than conventional drilling. 

cat canyon

Sierra Club discusses dangers of oil at a school by a proposed oil project 

Actions Include: 

  • Opposing Exxon's proposal to restart the corroded pipeline that burst and caused the Refugio Oil Spill in 2015, as well as their plan to build a new 123-mile pipeline that would cross three rivers, shallow aquifers and bulldoze 100 foot construction corridor the whole way and lock in offshore oil production for decades to come. 
  • Working to prevent the state from granting a massive "aquifer exemption" for all of Cat Canyon allowing oil companies to inject polluted wastewater into underground formations that could contaminate the Santa Maria groundwater that supplies drinking water to north Santa Barbara county.
  • Working to establish a new Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary from Gaviota northward that would permanently prohibit drilling. 
  • Defeated over 750+ proposed oil wells in Cat Canyon and a 141-oil well project in Orcutt
  • Defeated Exxon's proposal to restart offshore oil wells shut down since a 2015 oil spill and truck the oil via 70 explosive tanker trucks per day on the 101, and are intervening to defend the county's denial of the project.
  • 9 offshore oil wells are now slated for decommissioning. Sierra Club endorsed state elected leaders and the State Lands Commission have helped secure funding to look for offshore leaks and remove legacy oil infrastructure.
  • Defeated Trump's efforts to open up the Pacific Ocean to new oil leases.
  • Defeated Phillips 66 Santa Maria Refinery rail spur expansion proposal that would mean 260 mile-long oil trains per year carrying explosive Canadian tarsands oil right through our communities. They had received tens of thousands of public comments and letters from cities all along the tracks including Santa Barbara, Goleta and Carpinteria.  
  • Got Santa Barbara to require new oil projects to mitigate or offset almost all of their greenhouse gas pollution.  See County Adopts Stringent New Emissions Limits