The Environmental Defense Center, on behalf of our clients Get Oil Out! (GOO!) and Citizens Planning Association of Santa Barbara (CPA), executed an historic and unprecedented agreement with Plains Exploration & Production Company (PXP) on April 9, 2008 in which PXP agreed to shut down four active oil platforms, hundreds of onshore oil wells, and remove two onshore oil and gas processing and transportation facilities in Santa Barbara County. Despite support by Congresswoman Capps, the County of Santa Barbara, and local elected officials and community leaders, the proposal was rejected by the State Lands Commission (SLC) in January 2009. In an effort to respond to the Commission's concerns, a revised proposal was released in early 2010, but political factors prevented the proposal from being reconsidered (click here for the full description of the proposal). Although the benefits of the 2010 Tranquillon Ridge plan were never implemented, EDC will continue our work to end oil drilling off the coast of Santa Barbara.
RECENT NEWS (December 2013)
Since 2003, a competing oil development proposal has been pursued by Sunset and Exxon. Their proposal would tap into the same reserves, but from an onshore location on Vandenberg Air Force Base. Slant drilling from onshore into offshore waters raises many of the same concerns as any other offshore oil drilling project, in terms of generating the risk of a coastal oil spill, causing air and water pollution, and contributing to global climate change. Drilling in this particular area also threatens state marine protected areas.
This proposal has not been considered by any public agencies because Vandenberg has not allowed Sunset and Exxon to use Base property for their drilling project. The Base is concerned about conflicts with its mission and operations, as well as potential harm to sensitive environmental resources. In July, 2013, however, the Air Force agreed to conduct an “Opportunity Assessment” to explore whether drilling from Vandenberg would be feasible, compatible with the Base mission, and whether there would be any environmental, economic or political concerns.
In September, 2013, EDC submitted a letter to the Air Force, raising concerns about the unacceptable risks and impacts that would result from this drilling proposal.
In 2002, EDC, GOO! and CPA defeated Torch/Nuevo’s proposal to slant drill from an existing federal platform (Irene) into state waters to access further resources in the Tranquillon Ridge oil and gas field. Our primary concern was that the project would extend the life, and hence the impacts, of the existing operations from Platform Irene and the onshore Lompoc Oil and Gas Plant.
Two years later, PXP took over the operations of these facilities and proposed a similar project. In 2004, PXP had proposed to slant drill from an existing platform (Irene) -- located in Federal waters in the Pt. Pedernales Unit -- into the Tranquillon Ridge oil and gas field. We raised the same objections we had raised in response to the Torch/Nuevo project. In response to opposition from EDC and our clients, PXP agreed to end dates for all of its existing oil drilling operations offshore Santa Barbara County. PXP also agreed to fully mitigate the project's greenhouse gas emissions and protect significant lands in Santa Barbara County.
|Santa Barbara County Energy Divison Map
The first Agreement in 2008 stated:
- The Tranquillon Ridge Project would include an “end date” which would prohibit any extension of the life of existing oil and gas operations;
- PXP’s existing oil and gas operations would be shut down. PXP would phase out oil and gas production operations in the County, both offshore near Pt. Arguello and Pt. Conception and onshore near Lompoc and Gaviota;
- The three Pt. Arguello platforms would be shut down in nine years and the Gaviota onshore processing facility would be removed;
- Platform Irene and 2,600 acres of onshore oil and gas wells would be shut down in 14 years and the Lompoc Oil and Gas Plant (LOGP) would be removed;
- All direct greenhouse gas emissions from the Tranquillon Ridge Project would be mitigated or offset, resulting in carbon neutrality;
- PXP would donate an additional $1,500,000 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the County; and
- PXP would convey approximately 3,900 acres of land to The Trust for Public Land (TPL), including 3,700 acres adjacent to the Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve in the Lompoc Valley and up to 200 acres on the Gaviota Coast, for the benefit of the public.
The 2008 plan was approved by the County of Santa Barbara but rejected by the SLC. We subsequently revised the plan to respond to the concerns raised by the SLC and clarify the enforceability of the agreement.
The 2010 Plan responded to concerns raised by the SLC as follows:
- The State of California, including the SLC, was granted the right to enforce the Environmental Parties’ settlement agreement with PXP;
- PXP would 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 give up any profits that would have resulted should the end dates be violated;
- TPL confirmed that there were no title or other issues that would interfere with the conveyance of the 3,900 acres for public benefit.
The 2010 revised Tranquillon Ridge Plan was made public and posted on the EDC website and announced at a press conference with EDC, GOO!, CPA, Congresswoman Lois Capps, Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal, Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, longtime activists Selma Rubin and Bob Sollen, and The Trust for Public Land:
"This plan sends only one message--and it sends it loud and clear: we are willing to go the extra mile to end the drilling along our coast. This is not a decision that we've made lightly. It's one we looked at closely. But, the bottom line is this: this plan puts an end to existing oil drilling off our coast and it will prevent any future drilling."
--Congresswoman Capps (read her full statement)
An annotated version of the Environmental Parties’ settlement agreement is available here. The TPL agreement is available here. Please also read our media packet and our factsheet on the agreement.
EDC Press Releases
May 3, 2010
Response to Governor's Withdrawal of Support for Tranquillon Ridge Plan to End Offshore Oil
April 29, 2010--EDC Statement on the Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico
The tragic spill in the Gulf of Mexico re-affirms the threat of ongoing oil development and highlights the importance of the Tranquillon Ridge plan to end existing offshore oil development.
April 7, 2010--Media Packet
New Plan Unveiled to End Existing Oil Drilling Offshore Santa Barbara County:
Congresswoman Capps, County Supervisor Carbajal, and Santa Barbara Mayor Schneider join Environmental Groups in Supporting New Plan for Tranquillon Ridge
Contents: Press Release, Statement by Congresswoman Capps, Supervisor Carbajal, Mayor Schneider, and the Trust for Public Land
February 10, 2010
Environmental Groups Respond to Governor's Proposal to Include Tranquillon Ridge in State Budget: Groups Continune to Work on Revisions to Plan to End Oil
January 8, 2010
Environmentalists Support State Reconsideration of Plan to End Oil: Gov Budget Would Preserve Existing Requirement for State Lands Commission Approval of Tranquillon Ridge Proposal
January 27, 2009
Environmental Groups Urge CA State Lands Commission to Support Deal to End Offshore Oil Drilling
October 7, 2008
Environmental Groups Celebrate Decision that will Phase Out Oil Development and Protect Lands in Santa Barbara County
April 10, 2008
Environmental Groups Announce Landmark Agreement to Limit Oil Development & Protect Lands in Santa Barbara