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Judy Rossiter: Expanded Drilling Good for Environment, Good for City Budget

Raising offshore production would lead to reduced natural-gas seepage — and increased revenue.

SOS California supports the request for expansion of Venoco’s Platform Holly’s permitted drilling area into the expanded adjacent leases as referenced in the Draft Environmental Impact Report recently submitted to the California State Lands Commission.

“The expanded drilling areas from Platform Holly provides the opportunity for additional seepage reductions near Coal Oil Point, which is one of the most prolific natural oil and gas seepage zones in the world,” SOS co-founder Bruce Allen said. 

SOS California, a nonprofit organization based in Santa Barbara dedicated to educating the public on the environmental effects of pollution caused by natural gas and oil seepage, offers peer-reviewed published studies from UCBS that Platform Holly’s oil and gas production has resulted in significant seepage reductions in the area surrounding Platform Holly and has operated safely for decades.

The seep areas around Platform Holly are also among the largest reactive organic compound (ROC) air pollution sources in Goleta and Santa Barbara.

“Each year, the APCD estimates oil and gas seeps offshore Santa Barbara County contribute 6,000 tons of ROC’s to the county’s air, while all transportation vehicles in the county contribute approximately 4,800 tons,” Allen said.

This proposed expanded production would benefit the environment, provide California with additional needed energy resources and provide the state, county and city governments with additional tax revenues to fund needed programs. 

SOS understands that there are a number of important issues with respect to how the expected increased onshore processing of the oil and gas produced from Platform Holly should be handled.

We strongly encourage that these issues be resolved in a way that allows the expanded oil and gas production to go forward.

“There are significant benefits to be gained by reducing the seepage that should not be ignored,” Allen says. “The impact to the marine environment and coastal communities from reductions in seepage is in the long-term public interest and is a benefit that needs to be considered.”

“It’s important for the Goleta and Santa Barbara coastal communities to better understand the adverse air and marine impacts that these offshore natural oil seeps — the second-largest in the world — have on the community’s air and water quality,” SOS board member Jim Nelson said. “With proper understanding of the pollution caused by this seepage, the community is bound to look hard and fast for a solution, which could create a new [surprising] perspective on expanded offshore oil and gas production in the Santa Barbara Channel.”

— Judy Rossiter represents SOS California.

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