Oil production is a sensitive subject on the South Coast, and residents are making no exception for Venoco’s plan to re-activate the well on Haskell’s Beach.
The State Lands Commission sent representatives to Goleta this week to discuss the environmental impact report for Venoco’s project. The commission ultimately will make the decision on the project, but the City of Goleta and the California Coastal Commission get a say in permitting and other issues.
Goleta resident Elizabeth Crawford said the oil industry has assured people for decades that the process is safe, yet huge oil spills keep happening.
“We heard it here,” she said, noting the 1969 spill in Santa Barbara. “How on Earth, no offense, can you say with a straight face that it won’t happen?”
Venoco Inc. wants to reopen one of the oil production piers near the Sandpiper Golf Club. Both piers were operating and processing oil until 1994, when a spill forced them to close. The second pier would be decommissioned and plugged.
Instead of processing oil on the pier again, Venoco wants to send everything to the nearby Ellwood Onshore Facility.
The state’s environmental documents found 16 significant and unavoidable impacts if the project is approved. Almost all of them are related to the potential of an oil spill from the well, flowlines or Line 96, which spans from the Ellwood Onshore Facility to the Las Flores Canyon facility.
“The risk of an oil spill is really the greatest concern of our organization,” said Carla Frisk of Get Oil Out.
She said this well is directly in the surf zone and has great potential for disaster.
The EIR says pressure is building inside the oil reservoir where these wells are, which caused leaks at the wellheads in 2000. Many people asked the State Lands Commission to offer evidence of a problem and make Venoco test the pressure without going into full commercial oil production.
Fran Farina of the Los Padres Sierra Club said there have been no leaks since 2001, so Venoco can’t use that as an objective for the project.
“There’s no evidence of (repressurization), and without it, it’s hard to justify that’s a reason you’re moving forward,” she told the commission representatives.
Linda Krop argued that the Las Flores Canyon facility could be used for processing instead, since Goleta’s General Plan and Coastal Plan won’t allow more oil going into the EOF. Krop, the lead counsel for the Environmental Defense Center, also said the project needs a firm end date.
City Attorney Tim Giles said the Goleta City Council is scheduled to discuss the issue at Tuesday's meeting.
All written comments for the EIR must be made by Dec. 20 and can be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Revised PRC 421 recommissioning DEIR comments.” Comments also can be submitted to Eric Gillies, assistant chief of environmental planning and management for the State Lands Commission. He can be reached by telephone at 916.574.1890 and fax at 916.574.1885.
Click here to read the draft report online. Copies also are available at the Goleta Branch Library, 500 N. Fairview Ave.; the City of Goleta, 130 Cremona Drive, Suite B; the Santa Barbara Central Library, 40 E. Anapamu St.; and the County of Santa Barbara, 123 E. Anapamu St.