Friday, December 9 , 2016, 4:12 pm | Fair 63º


Local News

Groups Appeal Santa Maria Energy Project Decision

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.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk's intent is not to limit the discussion of our stories but to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and must be free of profanity and abusive language and attacks.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree to be respectful. Noozhawk encourages intelligent and impassioned discussion and debate, but now has a zero-tolerance policy for those who cannot express their opinions in a civil manner.

» Agree not to use Noozhawk’s forums for personal attacks. This includes any sort of personal attack — including, but not limited to, the people in our stories, the journalists who create these stories, fellow readers who comment on our stories, or anyone else in our community.

» Agree not to post on Noozhawk any comments that can be construed as libelous, defamatory, obscene, profane, vulgar, harmful, threatening, tortious, harassing, abusive, hateful, sexist, racially or ethnically objectionable, or that are invasive of another’s privacy.

» Agree not to post in a manner than emulates, purports or pretends to be someone else. Under no circumstances are readers posting to Noozhawk to knowingly use the name or identity of another person, whether that is another reader on this site, a public figure, celebrity, elected official or fictitious character. This also means readers will not knowingly give out any personal information of other members of these forums.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

Noozhawk’s management and editors, in our sole discretion, retain the right to remove individual posts or to revoke the access privileges of anyone who we believe has violated any of these terms or any other term of this agreement; however, we are under no obligation to do so.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >