Judge Denies Oil Company Fracking in Santa Barbara Channel

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Judge Denies Oil Company Fracking in Santa Barbara Channel
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Oil platforms off Santa Barbara coast (file photo)

Source: Environmental Defense Center

A federal judge issued an order last night declaring that the oil company DCOR, LLC cannot proceed with its two proposed permits to conduct fracking in the Santa Barbara Channel at Platform Gilda.  In November 2018, the judge ruled in favor of the Environmental Defense Center (“EDC”) and Santa Barbara Channelkeeper (“SBCK”), prohibiting the Trump Administration from approving the use of well stimulation treatments, including fracking and acidizing, offshore California until required environmental protection processes conclude.  Despite that important order, DCOR sought a special exception from the Court to proceed with fracking, alleging that the Court’s order caused it financial harm.  However, the Court denied that request, ruling that the harm to threatened and endangered species from offshore fracking outweighs any monetary harm to the oil company, and upheld its moratorium on these practices.

“There is no reason the oil company DCOR should be allowed to skirt around the Court’s important order that ensures offshore fracking will not harm threatened and endangered species, such as the Southern sea otter and Western snowy plover,” said Maggie Hall, Staff Attorney at EDC.  “We applaud the Court’s decision for recognizing that preventing harm to wildlife trumps the industry’s financial interests.”

“The impacts of offshore fracking and acidizing on local wildlife have never been meaningfully analyzed,” said Kira Redmond, Executive Director of SBCK.  “These practices will extend the life of existing oil platforms in a sensitive marine environment which is still recovering from the 2015 Plains All American Pipeline rupture that devastated our coastline.  We need information to understand the potential impacts of these practices so that appropriate measures can be implemented to protect marine life, our coast, our communities, and our economy.”

In DCOR’s request to the Court it claimed that the company would suffer financial harm from not being allowed to proceed with fracking from Platform Gilda.  The Court concluded that endangered species are to be given “the highest of priorities” and that the financial harm DCOR claimed from this temporary ban was a speculative “parade of horribles.”

EDC and SBCK filed a lawsuit in November 2016 alleging that fracking and acidizing can harm species protected under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”), such as the Southern sea otter, and that such activities must be stopped until federal wildlife agencies can conduct their review to ensure that these species are not harmed.  The Court agreed with EDC and SBCK, concluding that the government agencies Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (“BOEM”) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (“BSEE”) violated the ESA when they approved the practices of fracking and acidizing from platforms offshore California. In ruling in favor of EDC and SBCK, the court issued an injunction “to prevent the irreparable harm” that will occur if BOEM and BSEE issue well stimulation permits before the Fish and Wildlife Service completes its review.

The court also ruled in favor of the State of California’s claim that fracking and acidizing cannot occur offshore California until the Coastal Commission has an opportunity to review the potential harm to our State’s coastal zone.  The Commission’s review will require a full public hearing process.

The use of offshore fracking and acidizing in the Santa Barbara Channel poses significant risks to the sensitive marine environment.  The Santa Barbara Channel harbors such incredible biological diversity that it has been dubbed the “Galapagos of North America.”  Acidizing and fracking are both potentially dangerous oil production processes involving the injection of large amounts of water and chemicals below the seafloor in order to fracture or dissolve rock.  More information can be found in EDC’s Dirty Water: Fracking Offshore California report. 

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a-1558648656 Apr 26, 2019 01:52 PM
Judge Denies Oil Company Fracking in Santa Barbara Channel

The Trump administration on Thursday detailed its plan to open more than a million acres of public and private land in California to fracking, raising environmental concerns at a time when opposition to oil and gas drilling in the state is intensifying. The action would end a five-year moratorium on leasing federal land in California to oil and gas developers. That pause came after a federal judge ordered the Obama administration to halt similar leasing efforts until it could better evaluate the environmental risks of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. This Judge will probably be over ruled . I am against offshore fracking, especially in the Channel .

Red Creek Apr 26, 2019 10:19 AM
Judge Denies Oil Company Fracking in Santa Barbara Channel

So much hooey in one thread it would be a good comic act except for the ignorance. The oil company investors/workers/apologists responses to big oil making billions while polluting our lands and waters: regarding contamination of ocean products - Trader Joe's foods also have artificial ingredients ; it's Lois Capps fault, she sat on a committee regulating the big oil and in the same missive "Oil industry in this area needs to be congratulated for a rather long run of clean operations", it's the regulators at fault; the pollution is " NATURAL" (our family grew up here and we don't remember oil on our bodies and feet when we were kids, ever), fish aren't really that contaminated -- what about wheat dust? , it's the "GOO disaster" but the oil companies have kept the ocean clean. If the oil companies were such good stewards of our lands and oceans there wouldn't be such an outcry to get them out of here.

Factotum Apr 26, 2019 10:41 AM
Judge Denies Oil Company Fracking in Santa Barbara Channel

Oil companies have been overall good stewards of the land., delivery a product most cannot do without. This place is full of knee-jerk contrarians who love to protest anything that sticks it to the establishment, capitalism, profits, the rich, and most things we call American.. Easy shots and intellectually lazy, is all I can offer in their defense.

a-1558648656 Apr 25, 2019 01:19 PM
Judge Denies Oil Company Fracking in Santa Barbara Channel

Birds killed by the oil spill. Tragic. Also, dogs and cats killing birds, more birds killed that way, and extremely tragic and ongoing. How many times have you seen owners of dogs laughing and enjoying when their dogs are darting, chasing, and threatening shore birds. These birds might be resting from migration and exhausted. But, pretty funny, huh, dog owners?

a-1558648656 Apr 25, 2019 07:37 PM
Judge Denies Oil Company Fracking in Santa Barbara Channel

A-1556245460 @ 1:19 PM. It is shameful the way some people have no clue or simply don't care about allowing their dogs to chase migratory shorebirds. Many's the time I have told people off (nicely) about their dogs chasing shorebirds. When I approach the dog owner(s) I always ask if s/he/they know that the birds are migratory and need to be left alone to eat and fatten up and not be chased relentlessly. Generally speaking, most dog owners react positively. That said, while I have seen dogs chasing shorebirds ----- once to the point where the dog ran across Channel Dr. at Butterfly Beach, in its eagerness to "hound" a hapless bird-----I have yet to see a dog ever come close to catching a bird. Ill or injured birds, languishing on the sand is a different matter. In such cases, I always come to the bird's aid. However, I must disagree with your notion that dogs kill shorebirds. On the other hand, cats? Don't get me started on killer cats.

a-1558648656 Apr 25, 2019 07:15 PM
Judge Denies Oil Company Fracking in Santa Barbara Channel

The Interior Department has put plans to open more offshore areas to oil and gas drilling on hold indefinitely, according to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. Bernhardt said the decision to shelve offshore drilling plans was made after a federal court in Alaska ruled against an executive order President Donald Trump issued to open Arctic waters to energy

Luvaduck Apr 25, 2019 11:54 AM
Judge Denies Oil Company Fracking in Santa Barbara Channel

Caused the oil company "financial harm", indeed. What would fracking do to multiple existing earthquake faults & the safety of everyone who lives here; ocean & beach qualities (especially if a tanker bumps their rig); tourism; and what would the injection of over 240 chemicals, some of them extremely poisonous & deadly, do to the aquafer this area draws on for drinking water, especially during droughts. Excuse me while I dry some crocodile tears.

a-1558648656 Apr 25, 2019 07:42 PM
Judge Denies Oil Company Fracking in Santa Barbara Channel

LUVADUCK 11:54 AM. Please run for Mayor. If you do I will vote for you and make sure everyone I know does as well. We need some right thinking people on that council. Or run for County Supe. We'll vote for you. P.S. (It's "due" and "aquifer.")

Factotum Apr 25, 2019 10:05 AM
Judge Denies Oil Company Fracking in Santa Barbara Channel

The oil industry has been in full operation in this area for decades, including off shore. And they have kept the Channel Islands free from "big oil pollution". One minor spill at Refugio which was immediately cleaned up, down to even using tooth brushes on rocks. And the initial GOO disaster that taught everyone the lessons they needed. EDC deserves no praise for "clean oceans". That belongs to the local oil industry itself. There is no money in spilt oil- which always makes the industry the prime mover in safe operations.

PitLocal Apr 26, 2019 10:11 AM
Judge Denies Oil Company Fracking in Santa Barbara Channel

Unocal is UN-LOCAL, same with Texaco, Shell Oil, and all those guys. They could give two hoots less about what mess they leave behind and the damage they cause. All they care about is their profit.

a-1558648656 Apr 25, 2019 07:48 PM
Judge Denies Oil Company Fracking in Santa Barbara Channel

KOHN1 @ 2:01 PM. Run-off into the ocean due to the debris flow Jan. 2018 ring any bells? What kind of toxins do you think were "absorbed" into our local waters during that disaster? See the cruise ship out in the harbor today? Lots of good reasons to not eat local (or any) fish, shellfish, clams, period.

Factotum Apr 25, 2019 04:37 PM
Judge Denies Oil Company Fracking in Santa Barbara Channel

Since PITMIX you admit no one knows the long term effects of these alleged micro-elements, we may find they are neutral or good for us. People ingest artificial supplements as if they were candy. Just walk the aisles of Trader Joe's and see how many chemicals people scoop up, including alcohol.Why assume these free floating oceanic micro-elements will be bad, bad, bad toxic, fatal, and forever lurking as a time bomb hastening the time when we reach the end of our mortal coil? Living in constant fear of the unseen and unknown is far more harmful. Does a real number on your cortisol levels. Try not to infect others with your unsubstantiated micro-fears.

PitMix Apr 25, 2019 03:52 PM
Judge Denies Oil Company Fracking in Santa Barbara Channel

Plenty of studies around to show the residual levels of mercury and other toxins measured in the fish caught off our shores. They even provide recommendations on how much fish you can safely eat for a regular adult and if you are pregnant. Or you think the crap we generate that washes into the ocean and is passed through fish as they are breathing and eating and living isn't going to bioaccumulate and cause trouble for you? Especially the filter feeders. They are very poor at knowing what the long term effects of eating small amounts of toxins are, so good luck with that.

Factotum Apr 25, 2019 02:01 PM
Judge Denies Oil Company Fracking in Santa Barbara Channel

Who is talking laissez faire. Rep Lois Capps sat on the pipeline safety sub-committtee at the same time you claim All American was nothing but rusty pipes and failed responses? This is a very, very heavily regulated industry. You need to go after the regulators for being asleep at the switch because this spill had zero to do with laissez-faire. Accidents can and do happen. Oil industry in this area needs to be congratulated for a rather long run of clean operations. Spare me the Greka complaints, we know all about them. Overall, this has been a safe and clean industry producing county revenue and jobs along with reasonable profits and benefits for the rest of us. Romantic idealization has no place - that is running your imagination on laissez faire and that is simply not fair.

kohn1 Apr 25, 2019 02:01 PM
Judge Denies Oil Company Fracking in Santa Barbara Channel

I'd like to ask the poster with the black band where his/her expertise in fish came from. Does he/she have any real facts proving fish from the channel shouldn't be eaten or is this just more enviro-wacko stuff.

a-1558648656 Apr 25, 2019 01:17 PM
Judge Denies Oil Company Fracking in Santa Barbara Channel

Z - what's wrong with the fish? High levels of some micro something or other that no one other than those who panic about their food being made near a place that might have had some wheat dust blow by at some point in history worry about?

Luvaduck Apr 25, 2019 12:02 PM
Judge Denies Oil Company Fracking in Santa Barbara Channel

And they kept their pipes in such great shape that mostly rust was holding them together and their staff was so on top of things, they "immediately" responded. Yup. Wonderful sensitivity and great match for our areas needs and out-of-the area profits. Doncha wish we could get one of those radioactive storage areas to come here, too? And some industrial pig farm waste ponds . . .

PitLocal Apr 25, 2019 10:44 AM
Judge Denies Oil Company Fracking in Santa Barbara Channel

History has demonstrated that laissez faire economics does not work to achieve environmental protection. Mr. Factorum - they are fracking the channel! There is no method of petroleum extraction that more environmentally destructive than fracking. We eat the fish out of the channel, and we have designated the Channel Islands as a marine sanctuary. To allow fracking in the channel runs directly contrary to our personal health needs and the marine sanctuary designation. The oil industry is not the good shepherd of our clean oceans.

PitLocal Apr 25, 2019 09:48 AM
Judge Denies Oil Company Fracking in Santa Barbara Channel

Huge thanks to the Environmental Defense Center, the Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, and the wonderful legal work performed by their counsel. Thank you for your hard work and effective efforts! Keep our coastal waters and Channel Islands ecosystems free from big oil pollution!

Flicka Apr 25, 2019 08:30 AM
Judge Denies Oil Company Fracking in Santa Barbara Channel

"If you don't like it move"? Oh yes, don't bother trying to protect our environment? We should endanger our coast? Maybe you weren't here in 1969. I was born and raised here, 4th generation, and have no intention of ever moving but definitely want to be against any more offshore nonsense. Trump and the oil companies don't give two hoots about environmental issues.

PitMix Apr 25, 2019 12:07 PM
Judge Denies Oil Company Fracking in Santa Barbara Channel

I've never understood this "more natural seepage when not drilling" argument. They've been pumping for years, is it possible that this extraction has not reduced the pressure in the oil deposits by now? And if not, is that because they are reinjecting oil extraction waste at high pressure to keep up the pumping rates? If so, it seem misleading to argue that pumping reduces seeps when it is really the injection process that is maintaining the seeps.

CoastWatch Apr 25, 2019 10:47 AM
Judge Denies Oil Company Fracking in Santa Barbara Channel

To the Edhaters who like to jump to conclusions...I was born and raised in California and have never been far from our coastline . I've been a certified SCUBA diver since I was 15 and have done 100s of dives off Catalina, Anacapa and Sta Rosa and well as beach dives, so yeah , I can say with some first hand knowledge that our Channel, though beautiful- I'd say it's a stretch to refer to them as similar to the Galapagos... BTW, there is more natural tar seepage on our beaches when there is no drilling ... Again, the beach tar is due to NATURAL fissure seepage....

Yeti Apr 24, 2019 06:59 PM
Judge Denies Oil Company Fracking in Santa Barbara Channel

Good. SCREW these oil companies. The idea of pumping toxic solvents into the ground to push oil out sounds pretty high risk to our water table and local environment. Go back to Texas and continue to mess up your own back yard.

Factotum Apr 25, 2019 02:08 PM
Judge Denies Oil Company Fracking in Santa Barbara Channel

The world is already pretty amazing considering it is now housing 7.3 billion people. And vast numbers have moved out of desperate poverty thanks to the capitalist economic system. Was Mao's China your ideal of a non-capitalist society. We have tried other systems on this planet- they have all failed except for capitalism which you for some reason consider a dirty word. Not sure what drives this current alienation of the one successful economic system this world has known.

Luvaduck Apr 25, 2019 12:20 PM
Judge Denies Oil Company Fracking in Santa Barbara Channel

Lots of vehicles use lots of gas, especially big ones. Can't drink gas though. If the powerful fossil fuel industry weren't able to buy legislators and patents (then sit on them) and obstruct funding R & D for alternate sources of energy production, wind, water, solar would be cleaner, cheaper sources for energy and much less vulnerable to accident & terrorists since they'd be chosen for local conditions not be a (multi)-nationwide grid.

PitMix Apr 25, 2019 12:09 PM
Judge Denies Oil Company Fracking in Santa Barbara Channel

I put gas in the smallest most fuel efficient car I can find. And will move to an electric car and solar panels as soon as I can. If all of us tried to reduce our environmental footprint, how amazing could we make the world?

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