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New Oil Drilling Plan
updated: Apr 07, 2010, 1:13 PM

Source: EDC

SANTA BARBARA, CA…Congresswoman Lois Capps, Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal, and Santa Barbara City Mayor Helene Schneider joined the Environmental Defense Center (EDC), Get Oil Out! (GOO!), Citizens Planning Association of Santa Barbara (CPA) and The Trust for Public Land (TPL) in supporting the new 2010 Tranquillon Ridge Plan that will end existing oil drilling offshore Santa Barbara County.

The new plan modifies and enhances the 2008 settlement agreement entered into by GOO!, CPA, and PXP, that would have shut down existing oil production from three offshore platforms in nine (9) years and a fourth platform in fourteen (14) years, as well as requiring the removal of two onshore support and processing facilities and hundreds of acres of onshore oil wells. The 2008 Tranquillon Ridge Plan was approved by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors but denied 2-1 by the California State Lands Commission (SLC) in January 2009.

The 2010 Plan responds to concerns raised by the SLC as follows:
-The settlement agreements with the Environmental Parties and TPL are public;
-The State of California, including the SLC, is granted the right to enforce the Environmental Parties' settlement agreement with PXP;
-PXP is required to surrender its Federal oil leases, thereby eliminating its ability to operate the four platforms after the "end dates" and removing any threat that the Federal government would force PXP to continue producing;
-PXP would have to disgorge, or give up, any profits that result should the end dates be violated;
-TPL has confirmed that there are no title or other issues that would interfere with the conveyance of the 3,900 acres for public benefit. These lands include the onshore support facilities and oil wells.

"The bottom line is this plan puts in place a timetable to end existing oil drilling off our coast and prevent any future drilling," said Congresswoman Capps, offering her "strong endorsement" for the new plan. "It's transparent. It's accountable. It's smart." The Congresswoman pointed to her years of work opposing offshore oil drilling, and praised President Obama's recent decision to exclude California from the draft 2012-2017 federal leasing plan. "But President Obama's decision to prevent new drilling in federal waters is only part of the solution. The second part of the solution is reaching an agreement on how and when we will put an end to existing drilling. That's what this plan does. And that's why I strongly support it."

"Our organizations have been fighting to keep our State safe from new drilling ever since 1969, when a massive oil spill devastated the Santa Barbara coast," said Abe Powell, President of GOO! "The agreement represents a tremendous opportunity for Santa Barbara, for California and for the environment. It accomplishes the very things that GOO! has been fighting for the last 41 years: removal of oil platforms and facilities, restoration of the coast, and return of the land to the people."

"Now is the time to protect California, not just from new Federal leasing, but also from the threats posed by existing oil drilling that occurs off our coast on a daily basis," said Linda Krop, Chief Counsel of the EDC, who represented GOO! and CPA in the negotiations with PXP. "Never before in the nation's history has a community come together to shut down existing offshore oil drilling."

"This plan will protect our coast by shutting down four existing platforms and removing the onshore support facilities and infrastructure," noted Steve Dunn, President of CPA. "We opposed these platforms going in, and now we will get to see them shut down sooner rather than later."

"We have always believed that this agreement is an excellent way to protect lands that currently support offshore oil and gas development," said Debra Geiler, TPL's Southern California Director. TPL negotiated a complementary agreement with PXP to accept the donation of the lands underlying the onshore facilities for public benefit and permanent preservation. These lands include approximately 3,700 acres next to the State's Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve and close to 200 acres along the Gaviota Coast.

The 2010 Tranquillon Ridge Plan builds off of the 2008 settlement agreements between the environmental groups, TPL and PXP. The 2010 plan includes new provisions strengthening transparency and enforceability. [See attached fact sheet and map.] The original settlement came about after EDC, GOO! and CPA had spent ten (10) years opposing development of the Tranquillon Ridge Field. In response to their concerns, PXP agreed to shut down all of its offshore oil drilling operations in California by a date certain, and to provide the groups with the ability to enforce those end dates. Under the settlement, the three Pt. Arguello platforms located offshore Pt. Conception and the Gaviota processing site will be shut down in 9 years. Platform Irene, the Lompoc Oil and Gas Plant, and hundreds of acres of onshore oil wells will be shut down in 14 years.

PXP is currently "draining" oil and gas from the Tranquillon Ridge oil field from its existing wells on Platform Irene, in federal waters. PXP pays no royalties to the State of California for this oil, and can continue this practice indefinitely. The settlement assures that Platform Irene will cease producing in 14 years. Without the agreement, Irene will continue drilling much longer. The settlement also provides for the end of oil production on three other oil platforms in the nearby Point Arguello field in 9 years. This is very significant because otherwise PXP could slant drill into nearby oil fields from these platforms, and keep them operational for another twenty or more years.

The Environmental Parties and TPL agreements are available at EDC site.


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