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Wednesday, January 23 , 2019, 2:38 am | Fair 40º


Supervisors Reaffirm Opposition to New Offshore Drilling

The board votes to send a letter urging the U.S. Department of Interior not to issue leases off the California coast

With a 3-2 vote, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday reaffirmed its opposition to new offshore leasing for oil and gas operations.

The vote will send a letter from the county to the U.S. Department of Interior, urging the DOI not to issue any new leases off the California coast from 2010 to 2015. Supervisors Doreen Farr, Salud Carbajal and Janet Wolf voted in favor of the letter, while Supervisors Joseph Centeno and Joni Gray opposed it.

The board passed a resolution in April opposing new offshore leasing, with the same supervisors voting 3-2.

The timing of Tuesday’s decision is a result of two approaching deadlines, where the county is submitting comments by mid-September on the leasing program and recently proposed safety regulations by the Minerals Management Service. The supervisors approved the MMS comment letter unanimously.

According to staff reports, the Department of Interior is required to prepare a leasing program every five years. The program will determine the size, location and timing of oil and gas leasing on the outer continental shelf according to energy needs.

The DOI began preparing its document two years ahead of schedule just last year before former President George W. Bush left office, and released a draft document that included four offshore areas for new oil and gas leases, of which Santa Barbara was included.

Forty-six oil leases exist off the coast of Santa Barbara County, and seven of those will be terminated shortly because of legal settlements.

Gray, who opposed the letter, said she would write a letter of her own to the DOI, expressing that her district is in favor of new leasing.

She said she would like to see a regional approach, including opinions from Santa Maria and up north, and that new leasing would bring in higher-paying jobs and reduce imported oil. “To me, it’s a travesty that the entire offshore issue is analyzed form an urban, Santa Barbara city point of view,” she said.

Carbajal said the letter just reiterates the “long-standing concern” the South Coast has had with offshore oil leasing.

“We really should not be selling any leases off our coast,” he said. “We’ve come along way, in terms of technology, but most of the spills are human error and organizational failures.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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