Thursday, November 15 , 2018, 6:29 pm | Fair 61º

 
 
 
 

Jackson Bill to Ban Offshore Drilling in State Waters of Tranquillon Ridge Passes Out of Committee

A bill by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, to ban offshore oil drilling from an area of state waters in the Santa Barbara Channel known as Tranquillon Ridge passed out of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee on Thursday.

The vote was 6-2. The area is designated as a Marine Protected Area because of its sensitive marine ecosystem.

The bill now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

In 1994, declaring that “offshore oil and gas production in certain areas of state waters poses an unacceptably high risk of damage and disruption to the marine environment of the state,” the California Legislature banned any new offshore oil and gas leases when it passed the California Coastal Sanctuary Act. But a loophole in state law left Tranquillon Ridge, which extends into state and federal waters, with reserves that are currently being tapped in federal waters from Platform Irene, uniquely vulnerable to offshore drilling.

Senate Bill 1096 repeals this loophole, found in Public Resources Code 6244.

“In Santa Barbara, our beautiful coastline helps drive our local economy, creating 25,000 tourism jobs and generating $4 million a day in visitor spending, “ said Jackson. “Even the slightest chance of an oil spill in a Marine Protected Area far outweighs any potential benefit to the state. This bill will close the book on the possibility of offshore drilling in these state waters and help ensure that our precious coastline remains protected forever.”

Over the years, oil companies have made numerous attempts to tap into Tranquillon Ridge’s offshore reserves from state waters. Since 2003, an oil development proposal has been pursued by Sunset and Exxon to drill into Tranquillon Ridge reserves from an onshore location at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Slant drilling from onshore into offshore waters raises significant concerns about possible oil spills, impacts on marine life, air and water pollution, and contributions to global climate change.

"We are thrilled to sponsor this bill, which would protect one of the most environmentally rich areas on the California coast," said Linda Krop, chief counsel of the Environmental Defense Center, a nonprofit environmental law firm headquartered in Santa Barbara County. "This region is recognized as one of five important ecological regions on the planet. For this reason, the state has designated this area as a Marine Protected Area, which means that it warrants the highest possible level of protection."

“If a project like the original T-ridge, which contained significant environmental benefits, was rejected by the state, then our community should vehemently oppose an oil project that has even worse environmental impacts and no benefits,” said Assemblymember Das Williams, D-Carpinteria. “This bill would protect our waters from potential harmful new oil development.”

Tranquillon Ridge is designated as a Marine Protected Area because of its sensitive marine ecosystem, and fishing, as well as public entry, is restricted there.

In 1969, 35 miles of Santa Barbara County’s pristine coastline was devastated by an oil slick resulting from offshore oil extraction. This disaster gave rise to the modern environmental movement and the yearly international celebration, Earth Day.

— Lisa Gardiner is the communications director for state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson.

 

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
Email
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.