California environmental groups released the following statement on Monday in support of state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson’s Senate Bill 1096, which would stop oil extraction in the Santa Barbara Channel and permanently safeguard a Marine Protected Area.
“SB 1096 would permanently safeguard a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the Santa Barbara Channel from repeated attempts to extract oil. Public Resource Code 6244 created a loophole within the Coastal Sanctuary Act that has left the area in Santa Barbara known as 'Tranquillon Ridge' subject to repeated oil development attempts, despite its location in both a coastal sanctuary and a Marine Protected Area. Tranquillon Ridge is the only site in the state that fits the criterion established in this loophole, leaving it extremely vulnerable to oil development, and the associated risks of extraction, including fracking and other extreme extraction methods, in such a delicate ecosystem.
“The designation of a Marine Protected Area involves stringent requirements, and underscores the importance of protecting its marine life, habitats and ecosystems. The MPA represents a tremendous environmental resource for the region with its diversity of marine life providing critical economic, recreational, and educational opportunities locally.
“Despite these protections and local opposition to oil development in this sensitive habitat, Tranquillon Ridge has been the focus of numerous proposals by the oil industry to access this reserve. These proposals have included attempts to tap into offshore reserves from an onshore location using slant drilling, exploiting language under Public Resources Code 6244. While industry claims such operations are safe, we have seen the catastrophic effects of spills in this region, including in 1969 when a major oil spill devastated the coast. The threat of an oil spill poses to wildlife and people, as well as the risk of air and water pollution, is unacceptable.
“We strongly support SB 1096.”
The statement is signed by Kathryn Phillips of the Sierra Club California, Hillary Aidun of the Center for Biological Diversity, Jena Price of the California League of Conservation Voters, Adam Scow of Food and Water Watch, Peg Mitchell of San Diego 350.Org, Parin Shah of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Michael Greene of the California State Grange, Jhon Arbelaez of Earthworks, Marce Gutierrez of AZUL, Bill Allayaud of the Environmental Working Group, Madelaine Stano of the Center for Race, Poverty & the Environment and Stefanie Sekich-Quinn of the Surfrider Foundation.
— Severn Williams is a publicist representing the environmental groups.