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Goleta Sends Letter of Concern Asking State Lands Commission to Reconsider Venoco Project

State Lands Commission staff support Venoco Inc.’s project to restart an oil-production well, but the City of Goleta has sent a letter of concern to ask the commission to reconsider.

Venoco wants to start production at the 421-2 well near Haskell’s Beach, which has been shut down since a 170-barrel spill from the pipeline onto the Sandpiper Golf Club in 1994.

While portions of the project facilities are within city boundaries — like the Ellwood Onshore Facility where Venoco wants to process its oil and gas — the project itself is under the state’s jurisdiction.

Venoco plans to process the oil and gas at the Ellwood Onshore Facility, but Goleta would have to approve permits. The alternative, processing oil at the pier itself, has more negative environmental impacts, according to the EIR

Members of the State Lands Commission is scheduled to vote on the environmental impact report and whether to approve the project at a meeting next Wednesday. Commission staff members say the project’s benefits outweigh the adverse environmental impacts and that Venoco has a vested interest in producing oil from that lease.

Goleta residents and council members are worried about the potential for oil spills and extending the life of onshore oil production facilities.

Goleta’s letter to the SLC outlines the city’s concerns and says approving the project is irresponsible without assurances that the piers and wells will be abandoned in a timely manner. The city also wants oil to get processed at Las Flores Canyon if the project gets approved.

Goleta and Venoco tried to reach a settlement agreement on the project with conditions that would go into effect if the project was approved, as a balance of both of their interests.

However, Venoco withdrew its support Tuesday when the city voted to send the letter of concern.

The letter and the agreement, as written, send a conflicting message to the SLC, Venoco government relations manager Steve Greig said.

Agreement terms would have required Venoco to remove the city to consider the project permits and make Venoco remove the piers after abandoning them.

Depending on the outcome of the SLC meeting, the city and Venoco might try to come up with an agreement both parties can agree with.

The SLC meeting is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. and will be webcast live.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli 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.

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