Monday, November 12 , 2018, 3:27 pm | Fair 74º


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.

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 using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

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 >