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Press Room

Read EDC’s recent and historical press releases, editorials, and reports.

Environmental Groups Seek Protections for Endangered Steelhead in the Santa Maria River

Environmental groups filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking water releases from Twitchell Dam to protect endangered Southern California steelhead in the Santa Maria River system. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of San Luis Obispo Coastkeeper and Los Padres ForestWatch by the Environmental Defense Center, Cooper & Lewand-Martin, Inc., and Aqua Terra Aeris Law Group. The case alleges that the Dam’s operators, the Santa Maria Valley Water Conservation District (“the District”) and Bureau of Reclamation (“Reclamation”), are violating the federal Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) by limiting the quantity and timing of flows in the Santa Maria River to levels that harm the critically-imperiled Steelhead population. The case seeks to enhance an important stretch of the Santa Maria River through an improved flow regime that would benefit the watershed, wildlife, and local communities.

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Lee Heller, Sabrina Venskus, and Naomi Kovacs Join Board of Environmental Defense Center

The Environmental Defense Center is proud to announce a major expansion of its board of directors. The organization has three new veteran environmental voices on its leadership team, with the addition of animal welfare and environmental activist Lee Heller; environmental attorney Sabrina Venskus; and longtime nonprofit and civic leader Naomi Kovacs. The three join EDC’s experienced board of directors at a time of profound importance for our climate and local environment.

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ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS ACHIEVE VICTORY ON SANTA YNEZ RIVER TO PROTECT ENDANGERED STEELHEAD

The Environmental Defense Center on behalf of California Trout, Inc. secured a major victory for Southern California steelhead on the Santa Ynez River in Santa Barbara County. After nearly 20 years of working together to compel the State Water Resources Control Board (“the Board”) to order improved management of Bradbury Dam and the Cachuma Reservoir, the Board adopted a significant Order requiring improved water flows and critical studies to benefit endangered steelhead such as the potential for fish passage over the Dam and other improvements to habitat. This important Order will help restore the Santa Ynez River watershed for wildlife, recreation, and other uses.

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Groups Urge State to Protect Aquifers from Oil & Gas Operations in Santa Barbara County

Today, groups submitted a letter to California’s key resource agencies responsible for preserving and managing the State’s natural resources to urge the agencies to protect drinking water and safeguard public health from the pending request for exemption from federal safe drinking water rules in the Cat Canyon Oil Field in Santa Barbara County. The groups include the Environmental Defense Center, Natural Resources Defense Council, Clean Water Action, Friends of the Earth, and other community and environmental groups.  Oil and gas operators in Cat Canyon seek this “aquifer exemption” to dispose millions of gallons of toxic wastewater underground into water-bearing zones or to inject steam into these areas as part of a dirty and dangerous production technique known as “enhanced oil recovery.”  The groups are asking the State to withdraw the application for the Cat Canyon Aquifer Exemption or at least wait until the U.S. Geological Survey completes its study of the groundwater quality in the Field, which is expected to begin this year.

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Environmental Groups Celebrate Termination of State Oil Leases Offshore Carpinteria, Santa Barbara County

Environmental groups celebrated today, after the California State Lands Commission terminated four oil and gas leases in state waters directly offshore the City of Carpinteria in Santa Barbara County.  The leases were purchased by Carone Petroleum Corporation in 1997, at which time Carone proposed to develop the leases by slant drilling from federal Platform Hogan.  For more than twenty years the Environmental Defense Center (EDC), a public interest environmental law firm, has been representing the Carpinteria Valley Association, Get Oil Out!, and Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter in opposition to this proposal, as well as a similar proposal by Venoco, to develop the Paredon project.  With the termination of the Paredon leases offshore Carpinteria and the Venoco leases offshore Ellwood, the Carone leases were the last active leases in State waters offshore Santa Barbara County.

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ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS GO TO FEDERAL COURT OF APPEALS TO PROTECT AGAINST OFFSHORE FRACKING

The Environmental Defense Center and Santa Barbara Channelkeeper announced that they will go to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to defend their court victory that currently prohibits the use of fracking and acidizing offshore California. The groups will also seek full environmental review of the impacts of these dangerous practices on the local environment, including air and water pollution, as well as harm to marine and coastal wildlife, such as the threatened Southern sea otter and Western snowy plover.

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Community Members, Environmental and Social Justice Groups Voice Opposition to Proposed Exemption for Oil and Gas Industry From Safe Drinking Water Rules

Opponents of a proposed expansion of the Cat Canyon aquifer exemption that would help pave the way for more than 700 new wells in Santa Barbara’s Cat Canyon oil field held a rally today before giving public comments at a hearing by regulators. Oil operators are seeking to exempt aquifers under Cat Canyon from protections under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, allowing them to dispose of wastewater underground and inject steam for oil production. Northern Santa Barbara County residents depend on groundwater for their drinking water and agricultural production. Groups are against the agencies’ consideration of the proposal before the release of the U.S. Geological Survey’s forthcoming data on the groundwater quality in Cat Canyon oil field. 

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Oil-field contaminants found in Santa Barbara County water wells

Community groups are calling on Santa Barbara County to deny three new proposals to triple onshore oil production in the County using high-pressure steam and acidizing in Cat Canyon after federal scientists found evidence of oil-field fluids in groundwater underlying the nearby Orcutt oil field.    The contamination was discovered at a field where Pacific Coast Energy Corporation (“PCEC “) has operated steam injection drilling and acidizing for over a decade.   Fortunately, the County denied PCEC’s request to expand its operations in 2016.    

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Partners Launch 2019 Program to Protect Blue Whales and Blue Skies

The partners in an initiative to reduce air pollution and protect endangered whales announced the launch of the 2019 incentive program, which will run through November 15, 2019, with voluntary vessel speed reduction (VSR) zones in the Santa Barbara Channel and San Francisco Bay regions. Similar to the 2018 program, companies participating in the 2019 program are asked to voluntarily slow down their entire fleet to 10 knots or less, with an average speed that does not exceed 12 knots. Partners chose the target of 10 knots to achieve maximum emission reduction benefits, and for consistency with other programs. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Sanctuaries request that vessels 300 gross tons or larger slow to 10 knots or less during peak whale feeding season to protect whales from lethal ship strikes.

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FOUR YEARS AFTER THE “REFUGIO OIL SPILL” AND THE FIGHT CONTINUES

May 19 marks the four-year anniversary of the 2015 Plains All American Pipeline Refugio Oil Spill that released more than 140,000 gallons of heavy crude along 150 miles of the California Coast, from Gaviota to the Channel Islands, and as far south as Orange County. The spill closed public beaches, 138 square miles of fisheries, and killed hundreds of marine mammals and seabirds. Four years later, the threat of another spill looms large as ExxonMobil seeks to restart its offshore platforms and truck its oil along the same coastal route.

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Linda Krop’s Testimony at the Plains All American Sentencing Hearing

Today, the Environmental Defense Center’s Chief Counsel, Linda Krop, testified as a witness at the sentencing hearing in the Plains All American Pipeline criminal trial in Santa Barbara Superior Court. The Environmental Defense Center was the only environmental group that testified. Below is the testimony that Ms. Krop delivered in Judge James Herman’s courtroom.

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Judge denies oil company’s request to continue fracking offshore California despite moratorium

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 and Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, 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.

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Abe Powell to Receive Environmental Hero Award at EDC’s Green & Blue Event

On Sunday, June 2nd, the Environmental Defense Center (EDC) will honor John Abraham “Abe” Powell as part of the organization’s annual event: Green & Blue: A Coastal Celebration. Abe will be presented with EDC’s Environmental Hero Award which has previously been bestowed on other local and national leaders including Jane Fonda, Yvon Chouinard, Jack Johnson, Jean Michel Cousteau, and Jackson Brown, among others.

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Judge Approves Legal Agreement to Extend Ban on Unmanaged Target Shooting in Los Padres National Forest

The U.S. Forest Service and a Santa Barbara-based conservation group have formally agreed to take a series of steps aimed at reducing the impacts of target shooting throughout the Los Padres National Forest in central California. The agreement – approved in U.S. District Court yesterday – resolves a 2018 lawsuit challenging the agency’s failure to address the proliferation of litter, soil and water contamination, wildfires, vandalism, harm to endangered wildlife, and other environmental and public safety hazards caused by decades of unmanaged target shooting across nearly two million acres of national forest land.

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Twelve Global Shipping Companies Slowed Transits in 2018 Program Off CA Coast to Protect Blue Whales and Blue Skies

The partners in an initiative to cut air pollution and protect endangered whales announced results from the 2018 program and recognized the 12 shipping companies that participated, reducing speeds to 10 knots or less in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Santa Barbara Channel region. The voluntary incentive program ran July 1 – November 15, 2018. Partners recognized the companies at a ceremony at the Bannings Landing Community Center near the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach.

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