The Goleta City Council Tuesday passed a resolution opposing the proposal to restart crude oil drilling efforts from offshore platforms and truck it across Santa Barbara County to refineries for processing.
ExxonMobil wants to restart three offshore platforms and truck oil along highways in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Kern counties.
The company requested to truck up to 70 oil tankers a day on Highway 101 and Highway 166 through three counties in order to restart offshore platforms, according to city staff.
Its platforms in the Santa Barbara Channel have been idle since the 2015 Refugio Oil Spill, when the Plains All American Pipeline transportation pipeline ruptured and the connecting line was shut down by federal regulators.
Plains has applied to build a new 123-mile pipeline to replace them, which would again connect oil platforms to refineries in Santa Maria and Maricopa, in Kern County.
Goleta council members voted unanimously against the trucking proposal and the resolution states that “oil truck accidents cause fires and explosions, injure and kill people, and spill hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude a year onto roads and into waterways.”
The resolution cites that the proposal is inconsistent with California’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and Goleta’s desire to phase out oil and gas extraction.
Mayor Paula Perotte pulled the item off the consent calendar to allow discussion, and more than 20 residents spoke during Tuesday’s public comment period.
“We have had a history of opposing it already,” Councilman Stuart Kasdin said. “The means of extracting it and transporting it is just not an appropriate thing to do in this area. Transporting those sort of things on the highway is something… we have opposed for an extended period of time.”
Two years ago, Goleta’s City Council approved a resolution supporting a ban on new drilling, fracking, and related techniques, and a phaseout of all oil and gas extraction, in state and federal waters in the Pacific Ocean.
Environmental review documents for the trucking application will be released for public review in March, according to Santa Barbara County, which is one of the jurisdictions deciding on the permits. Meanwhile, the county recently approved a contract for environmental review work on Plains’ replacement pipeline project.
Neighboring jurisdictions have also opposed the trucking proposal, and the San Luis Obispo City Council passed a resolution opposing this permit in January, according to Goleta staff.
Following Tuesday’s vote, company spokeswoman Julie King said in a statement that Exxon Mobil is disappointed with Goleta’s action.
“We have been working closely with the county on a permit application that would allow us to temporarily transport crude to market and resume safe, environmentally responsible operations, bring back jobs and tax revenues, and restore fueling California’s energy needs with its own oil,” King said in a statement. “ExxonMobil has operated safely at its Santa Ynez unit facilities since beginning production in the 1980s.
“We have worked closely with the county to develop a transportation plan that meets the highest safety standards in full compliance with California’s stringent safety and environmental regulations,” she continued.
The Environmental Defense Center said the trucking cargo of about 4 million barrels of oil annually would emit carbon pollution equivalent to burning 2 billion pounds of coal.
“We applaud the City of Goleta for standing up to ExxonMobil and protecting our coast,” Linda Krop, chief counsel for the Environmental Defense Center, said in a statement. “ExxonMobil’s proposal would expose the public to the risk of oil tanker accidents, increased air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and another oil spill along the California Coast.”
ExxonMobil’s proposal to truck oil across about 140 miles threatens California’s coastline and highways, said Blake Kopcho of the Center for Biological Diversity.
“Californians want to end dirty drilling off our coast, not resurrect aging oil platforms and invite a steady stream of tanker trucks onto our roadways,” Kopcho said in a statement.