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Press Room

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

Program to Protect Blue Whales and Blue Skies Launched

The partners in an initiative to cut air pollution and protect whales today announced the launch of the 2018 incentive program, which will start July 1 and end November 15, 2018, with voluntary vessel speed reduction (VSR) zones in the Santa Barbara Channel region and San Francisco Bay area. This year, financial incentives will be awarded to shipping companies based on the percent of distance traveled by their vessels through the VSR zones at 10 knots or less and with an average speed that does not exceed 12 knots. The 10 knot target was selected by the partnership for consistency. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Sanctuaries request  vessels 300 gross tons or larger to slow to 10 knots or less during the months of peak whale abundance to protect whales from lethal ship strikes.

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Jane Fonda and Gail Osherenko to Receive Environmental Hero Awards at EDC’s Green & Blue Event

On Sunday, June 3rd, the Environmental Defense Center (EDC) will honor film and television legend, Jane Fonda and local documentary filmmaker, Gail Osherenko, as part of the organization’s annual event: Green & Blue: A Coastal Celebration. Both Ms. Fonda and Ms. Osherenko will be presented with EDC’s Environmental Hero Award which has previously been bestowed on Jack Johnson, Jackson Brown, Yvon Chouinard, and Jean Michel Cousteau, among others.

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CLEAN WATER ACT ENFORCEMENT ACTION INITIATED AGAINST PACIFIC COAST ENERGY COMPANY FOR ITS ORCUTT HILLS OIL OPERATION

Today the Environmental Defense Center (“EDC”) notified Pacific Coast Energy Company LP (“PCEC”) (formerly BreitBurn Energy Company LP), of its intent to sue PCEC for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act (“CWA”). PCEC conducts oil exploration and development activities using enhanced oil extraction techniques such as cyclic steam injection at its 5,400 acre Orcutt Hill oil field operation.   Polluted runoff from this facility, which is located in northern Santa Barbara County, drains into Orcutt Creek and San Antonio Creek, which then drain into the Santa Maria River and Pacific Ocean, respectively. These waters provide important habitat for threatened and endangered species, such as the Unarmored Threespined Stickleback, the Tidewater Goby, the Red Legged frog and steelhead, and are used for public recreation and enjoyment.

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EDC Celebrates Another Critical Victory Over Power Plant

Today, EDC celebrates another critical victory in efforts to stop a fourth polluting fossil fuel power plant from moving forward along the coast of Oxnard.  The California Association of Independent System Operators (“CAISO”) Board voted this afternoon to adopt a new transmission plan that eliminates the need for building NRG’s proposed 270 MW gas-fired Puente Power Plant.  CAISO voted to approve the stringing of a fourth transmission line to deliver electricity to the Moorpark area that is part of multi-faceted solution to meet local area needs without developing additional fossil-fuel resources. 

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Environmental Defense Center to Host Refugio Oil Spill Film to Raise Awareness of Trump Offshore Oil Plan

On Tuesday, March 20th at 6:30 PM, the Environmental Defense Center will host a screening of BROKE: The Santa Barbara Oil Pipeline Spill of 2015 at the New Vic Theatre (33 W Victoria, Santa Barbara). Tickets are free, but RSVPs are required. Immediately following the film, guests will be invited to participate in a conversation between filmmaker and EDC Board Member, Gail Osherenko, and EDC Chief Counsel, Linda Krop. The evening will conclude with a reception. The evening has been arranged to raise awareness of, and support for, EDC’s work protecting the Santa Barbara Channel from the threatening offshore oil drilling expansion.

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Ninth Circuit Upholds Termination of “No-Otter Zone”

In a major victory for threatened southern sea otters, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today issued a ruling denying a challenge by commercial fishing organizations to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) decision that has restored protections for sea otters in Southern California. The Environmental Defense Center (EDC), The Otter Project and Los Angeles Waterkeeper intervened in the case on behalf of the FWS.

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Fund For Santa Barbara Supports Environmental Defense Center Efforts for Disaster Preparedness

In 2015, after 140,000 gallons of heavy crude oil from the Plains All American Pipeline spill struck Santa Barbara County beaches, there was a significant bottleneck preventing people who wanted to volunteer and stopping County residents from learning about, engaging in, and participating in the recovery efforts. This yet-unsolved challenge is the focus of a project of the Environmental Defense Center (EDC) which has just received $7,300 in grant funding from the Fund for Santa Barbara to help improve county, state, and federal responses to future disasters.

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ENVIRONMENTALISTS OPPOSE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S PLAN TO OPEN SANTA BARBARA CHANNEL TO NEW OFFSHORE OIL AND GAS DRILLING

Today, in a move strongly opposed by the Environmental Defense Center (“EDC”), the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (“BOEM”) released the 2019-2024 Outer Continental Shelf Draft Proposed Plan, which schedules lease sales along the California coast, including the Santa Barbara Channel. This is the first time the federal government has opened the California coast to new lease sales since 1984, when Ronald Reagan was president. This decision puts the coastal resources of California at risk of future oil spills and the damaging impacts of climate change.

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Coastal Commission Requires Restoration on the Gaviota Coast

After an extensive process of investigation and negotiation, the California Coastal Commission issued a Cease and Desist Order and Restoration Order concerning the Cojo Jalama Ranches (formerly known as Bixby Ranch).  Over the past six years, the Environmental Defense Center (“EDC”), on behalf of its client, California Native Plant Society (“CNPS”), has been urging strong enforcement in response to the environmentally-destructive and unlawful development activities that occurred on the Ranches, which are known as a biologically diverse and unique stretch of coastal land on the Gaviota Coast.  Because Cojo Jalama Ranches provide habitat for many rare and protected species, including red-legged frog and Gaviota Tarplant, EDC and CNPS tenaciously sought full restoration of the damaged habitats, including restoring oak woodlands, creeks, and native grasslands, and provided support for the Commission to maintain a strong position in its negotiations with the landowners.

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Energy Commission Agrees to Freeze Puente Power Plant Proceedings for Six Months

More than three years into our battle against NRG Energy’s proposed Puente Power Plant, the Environmental Defense Center (EDC) and our clients are disappointed with today’s decision by the California Energy Commission to grant NRG’s request to pause permit proceedings for its project. Since the beginning, NRG has been rushing its application through the Energy Commission proceedings, zealously opposing prior requests by opponents to pause the process in order to fill in large gaps in the project’s environmental review. NRG’s move to now halt the proceedings appears to be an effort to avoid the ultimate denial that the two presiding Energy Commissioners announced they would recommend earlier this month.

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Environmental Groups Oppose NRG Request to Freeze the Puente Power Plant Proceedings and Dodge a Denial

After a three-year battle by residents and advocates to defeat fossil fuel giant NRG Energy’s proposed power plant in the City of Oxnard, NRG filed a motion to suspend proceedings by the California Energy Commission (“CEC”). The motion comes on the heels of a statement issued by CEC Commissioners Janea Scott and Karen Douglas, indicating their intention to deny the Puente Power Project due to its significant environmental impacts and inconsistencies with local and state laws and regulations.

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Energy Commission Expected to Reject the Puente Gas Plant Project in Oxnard

A Committee of the California Energy Commission issued an unprecedented statement late yesterday stating that it will deny the proposed 262 megawatt Puente Power project in Oxnard because of clean energy’s ability to fulfill the region’s energy needs as well as environmental concerns.  This is a major turning point that comes after a three-year battle by residents, advocates, and the City of Oxnard to defeat fossil fuel giant NRG Energy’s proposed gas plant. The proposed rejection of this gas-fired plant marks a turning point in California’s clean energy revolution and marks a trend in re-evaluating the need for gas plants across the state.

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Phillips 66 Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging Denial of Rail Spur Project

Environmental groups rejoiced as Phillips 66 agreed to dismiss its lawsuit challenging the denial of its proposed Rail Spur Project by the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors. The dismissal means that the County’s denial stands, and Phillips will not be able to import heavy tar sands crude by rail car to its refinery near Nipomo in southern San Luis Obispo County. Phillips’ agreement to dismiss its lawsuit came as the company was facing a motion to dismiss from a coalition of environmental groups, as well as the County of San Luis Obispo, based on the fact that Phillips had failed to appeal the County’s denial to the California Coastal Commission.

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Blue Whales & Blue Skies Act Introduced in Congress

A coalition of government agencies and non-profit organizations applaud Congressman Alan Lowenthal, with co-sponsors Congressional Representatives Salud Carbajal, Julia Brownley, and Rohit Khanna, for introducing the Blue Whales & Blue Skies Act today. The Act calls on NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries to create a program to recognize shipping companies for voluntarily reducing speeds in the Santa Barbara Channel region to reduce air pollution, the risk of fatal ship strikes on whales and harmful underwater acoustic impacts.

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EDC COMMENTS ON TRUMP’S PLAN FOR NEW OFFSHORE OIL DRILLING

Today, the Environmental Defense Center (EDC) responded to a threat by the Trump administration to open the Santa Barbara Channel to new offshore oil and gas. While California is excluded from the current Five-Year Leasing Program created under the Obama administration, the Trump administration decided to consider additional areas in a new leasing program that would begin in 2019. This new program could include the Santa Barbara Channel and other areas along the west coast. No new lease sales have occurred in this region since 1984, and EDC will continue our commitment to prevent new leases in the future.

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