Sunday, February 14 , 2016, 3:35 pm | Fair 74º

Groups Appeal Santa Maria Energy Project Decision

By Gina Potthoff, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @ginapotthoff |

Several environmental groups have joined efforts to appeal the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission’s approval last month of a Santa Maria Energy oil-development and pipeline project.

The Environmental Defense Center on Friday filed an appeal of that action to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors on behalf of the Community Environmental Council, Los Padres Chapter of the Sierra Club, Get Oil Out and the Santa Barbara County Action Network.

The groups are calling for stricter environmental conditions on the North County oil company's project, which the commissioner approved Sept. 25 in a 3-2 vote that was split due to differing opinions about carbon-emissions thresholds.

Santa Maria Energy has been seeking approval to install 136 production oil wells, connecting pipelines and other oil equipment on leased property south of Orcutt since 2009.

Recent planning commission approval also made way for a related project to install an 8-mile underground recycled water pipeline to the Laguna County Sanitation District.

On Friday, the Community Environmental Council sent an email to its supporters to inform them of the filing, and to extend thanks to the 240 people who wrote letters last week in opposition of the project and the commission decision.

Nathan Alley, attorney for the EDC, filed the appeal within the 10-day window, citing two main reasons.

The appeal alleges that the commission erred in its decision-making process because commissioners were not shown a county planning document that requires a 10,000-metric-ton emissions threshold on projects until another standard is adopted, Alley said.

Environmental groups also allege an abuse of discretion, saying commissioners did not have evidence necessary to come to their decision to adopt a 29-percent threshold, which amounts to 62,480 metric tons per year.

“It’s essentially a repackaging of arguments,” Alley told Noozhawk. “I’m hoping that the arguments we’ve made are a little clearer to the board than they were to the commission.”

Bob Poole, Santa Maria Energy's public and government affairs manager, said Friday that news of the appeal was “unfortunate” because of how thorough the project had already been vetted.

He said the company has received many letters of support from community members since the decision, many happy to finally see the economic merits of the project.

“It’s a duplicative process that already has been conducted extensively,” Poole said. “With such a thorough analysis, it just seems like a waste of everybody’s time and efforts. Here we are with a delay again.”

Poole said Santa Maria Energy will work to address issues found in the appeal, which officials had not yet seen because it was delivered just before 5 p.m. Friday.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

» on 10.04.13 @ 09:20 PM

Good !  67,000 tons annually of greenhouse gasses to produce a crude product not even used here? What a scam? Don’t tell me about jobs. Tea Party zealots just put 800 Vandenberg AFB workers out of work , and they want to tout 50 or less jobs created by this fiasco? Tax revenue ? Ha !  The same Tea Party creeps and fat cat oil lobbyists conspire to keep California as one of the few remaining states without a severance tax on domestic oil production. What a scam.

» on 10.05.13 @ 07:27 AM

Appealing a decision of a lower body to the board of Supervisors is not a “duplicative process”, Mr Poole- it is the democratic process, the same one you would have taken advantage of had the Planning Commission did the right thing in the first place,
The tactics of intimidation and bullying employed by Santa Maria Energy in its quest to exploit our region’s environment are ugly and will not withstand closer scrutiny

» on 10.05.13 @ 09:04 AM

I find the comment about “The tactics of intimidation and bullying” from defenders of the EDC, CEC, Sierra Club, and other to be both dishonest and the kettle calling the pot black.

The environmental “green theme” groups have used very deep pockets for years to threaten and bully individuals, groups, and local governments with drawn out and expensive lawsuits. 

Don’t like being “bullied”?  Perhaps when the above mentioned groups and the rest should STOP using the very tactics they claim here, then the public just might have a better image of them.

It is steam injection, not fracing.

It has modification of emissions, and it is after all private property.  Guess what, before drilling there were many seeps on land and ocean that produced “through the natural process” hydrocarbon emissions at leas as much as these wells.

» on 10.05.13 @ 09:09 AM

Anyone got a plan for eliminating CA’s dependency on imported energy?  Or just NO to any attempt to improve the situation…

» on 10.05.13 @ 01:03 PM

Nope these idiots think the alternative is a wind mill powered electric car.

» on 10.05.13 @ 08:57 PM

So Locke & AynRand50 think that this project will somehow lessen California’s dependence on oil? That is by far the most ignorant thing to come out of those two dinosaurs mouths to date.

» on 10.07.13 @ 11:01 AM

Actually, at the Community Environmental Council we think a great alternative is a solar powered electric car.  1 in 35 new cars in CA were electric last month, and many owners are also installing solar on their houses.  I did myself.  For $6,000 in solar (2 kilowatts) you can produce enough power to drive 12,000 electric miles/year, for 25+ years.  Most people spend $6,000 in gas in just a few years.  Seems like a no brainer to me and an increasing number of people that want to be part of the solution and not the problem.  Having a solar power plant on my roof that powers my car and house, and allows me to not have to pay Edison and Exxon anymore is a great feeling.  You can also lease an electric car for $200 a month, so many people can pay for it with their gas savings.  Save green and go green.  Learn more about Driving on Sunshine at

» on 10.07.13 @ 02:17 PM

When Really starts commenting under his real name like Michael Chiacos does, we then will be getting real.

» on 10.11.13 @ 08:20 AM

Chiacos, I was being facetious. Don’t be a twit. I have had this argument with you and your other electric car enthusiast Tam Hunt before. The physics and chemistry doesn’t back your alternative. It’s stupid and lame. Look at the natural world around you and you will see no other life form uses batteries as a fuel storage device and for a real good reason, energy density. As a reminder and as I have schooled others on this topic, hybrid technology utilizing diesel-electric or diesel-hydraulic motive systems will prove far more efficient, energy saving and grant users much more range in travel for the dollar spent than electric-battery vehicles. The reason, they will be able to utilize the enormous energy stored in the chemical bonds that make up hydrocarbon fuels. Get a friggen clue.

For the less learned out there, petroleum is nothing more than geothermal and geo pressure modified bio fuel. And in that sense it’s really a form of solar energy. The difference is it’s a vast amount of solar energy over time, something you can not do with a solar cell, wind mill or any of the other dopy things you pseudo environmentalists come up with.

Like it or not we have a civilization that has been built on the back of abundant cheap energy. Any change to that and you, Willie and all the other dopes that don’t do their homework are going to be in for a hell of a shock. Everything you enjoy is predicated on that cheap energy and the more it costs the less you will have. The proof is in our spiraling trade deficit when we switched from a net energy exporter to a net energy importer.

BTW I never said this project would lessen our dependence on anything, you did. But I do know what will and that is booting you dopy leftists, democrats and liberals outta here. You are the sole reason this state is in the mess its in.

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