Read EDC’s recent and historical press releases, editorials, and reports.
Read EDC’s recent and historical press releases, editorials, and reports.
ExxonMobil’s dangerous proposal to truck massive amounts of oil along California highways is dead after the company dropped its lawsuit challenging Santa Barbara County’s denial of the plan. Exxon’s plan would have helped the company restart three drilling platforms off the Santa Barbara coast. The platforms, built in the 1980s, have been shut down since the disastrous 2015 Refugio oil spill that leaked more than 140,000 gallons of heavy crude on the Gaviota Coast and into the ocean. Exxon notified the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California late Thursday that the company is dismissing its lawsuit.Read More
On October 12, a federal court approved a settlement agreement that will help the endangered Southern California Steelhead make a comeback in Santa Barbara County by allowing more water to flow into the Santa Maria River.
The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed in 2019 by environmental groups alleging that the operators of Twitchell Dam violated the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) by cutting off the flow of water into important Steelhead habitat. Prior to the Dam’s construction, thousands of Steelhead migrated from the ocean to upstream spawning grounds. But without enough water, the fish become stranded in dry riverbeds, and the local population has cratered.Read More
The U.S. Supreme Court denied a request from the operators of Twitchell Dam to avoid protecting the endangered Southern California Steelhead in the Santa Maria River system. This is a big win for steelhead, for the watershed, and for our local communities. The decision leaves in place last year’s ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals holding that the Bureau of Reclamation and the Santa Maria Valley Water Conservation District can release water from the Dam to comply with the ESA. This ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by Plaintiffs San Luis Obispo Coastkeeper and Los Padres ForestWatch in 2019, represented by the Environmental Defense Center, Sycamore Law, Inc., and Aqua Terra Aeris Law Group. The case alleged that the Dam’s operators are violating the Endangered Species Act by limiting the quantity and timing of flows in the Santa Maria River to levels that harm the critically-imperiled Steelhead population.Read More
The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California upheld Santa Barbara County’s denial of ExxonMobil’s proposal to transport oil by tanker trucks along hazardous California highways. The plan would have helped the company restart three 1980s drilling platforms off the Santa Barbara coast, shut down since the disastrous Refugio oil spill eight years ago.
ExxonMobil’s proposal would have allowed the company to truck vast quantities of oil on coastal Highway 101 and Route 166. The plan to haul millions of gallons of oil per week through Santa Barbara County would have been a step towards restarting the company’s offshore platforms and resuming operations at its Las Flores Canyon processing facility, which when operational was the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the County.Read More
Conservation groups filed an appeal on September 19, 2023, in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to cancel a controversial logging and vegetation clearing project atop Pine Mountain and Reyes Peak in Southern California’s Los Padres National Forest. The appeal seeks to protect a remote ridgeline important to Indigenous groups, climbers, hikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts concerned about the future of this popular forest. In 2022, a coalition of conservation organizations filed lawsuits against the Forest Service on the grounds that the logging and chaparral clearing project would violate environmental laws, harm vulnerable wildlife, and do irreparable damage to the ecology of the forest.Read More
The Environmental Defense Center and Santa Barbara County Action Network today celebrated a win in Superior Court that preserves agricultural heritage in the Santa Ynez Valley. The Court’s decision stops a proposal to subdivide the 4,000-acre historic Rancho La Laguna into 13 parcels, which could allow for building of high-end residential estates. A nearby massive development by one of the same developers was listed for $21.5 million and marketed as a “plantation style manor house” with “endless manicured lawns,” an enormous swimming pool, a barn for eight horses, and other amenities.
“This was an important win in the effort to preserve the agricultural economy and spirit of the Santa Ynez Valley,” said EDC Senior Attorney Alicia Roessler. “Farming and ranching are not only part of our heritage of this area – it’s also a major part of our local economy. Approval of this project would have set a terrible precedent, paving the way for other large-scale subdivisions that would threaten critical agricultural land and biodiversity across Santa Barbara County.”Read More
On July 19, 2023, a federal judge declined to halt a controversial logging and vegetation clearing project atop Pine Mountain and Reyes Peak in the Los Padres National Forest. The ruling comes nearly two years after the project was approved despite the opposition of Indigenous groups, conservation organizations, scientists, businesses, local governments, and members of the general public who submitted a collective 16,000 comments to the Forest Service.Read More
The U.S. Supreme Court today refused to hear a challenge to a court-ordered prohibition on offshore fracking in federal waters off the California coast. Today’s decision leaves in place last year’s ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the federal government violated the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act and Coastal Zone Management Act when it allowed fracking and acidizing extraction practices at all offshore oil and gas wells in leased federal waters in the Pacific Ocean.Read More
EDC, one of the nation’s longest-running nonprofit law firms working to protect California’s coast and the earth’s climate – announced that its 2023 Environmental Hero award will be presented to Patagonia, Inc. EDC is delighted to honor Ventura-based Patagonia for its longstanding commitment to responsible business and action to protect nature and biodiversity, support thriving communities and fight the climate crisis. Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert will accept the award at EDC’s annual fundraising event, Green & Blue: A Coastal Celebration, on June 11th at the Stow House in Goleta, CA. The award presentation will be followed by an interview-style conversation between Ryan and Leah Stokes, UCSB Professor of Political Science and a leading expert in energy, climate, and environmental politics.Read More
Almost 150 acres of prime farmland near the City of Lompoc will be protected from development following a successful campaign by the Environmental Defense Center (EDC), its client the Santa Barbara County Action Network (SBCAN), and local agricultural partners. On Thursday, April 6, the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) voted 6-1 to deny the City of Lompoc’s application to expand its Sphere of Influence to include 148.3 acres of farmland adjacent to Bailey Avenue. The expansion would have been the first step towards potential massive development that would have paved over another piece of California’s shrinking farmland and undermined local agricultural production.Read More
The Environmental Defense Center – one of the nation’s longest-running public interest law firms working to protect the California coast, natural resources, and the earth’s climate – announced that Alex Katz will join in March as the organization’s new Executive Director. Alex brings 25 years of experience in public service and communications to the fight for environmental protection. He is deeply committed to climate action, conservation, and justice for communities that are disproportionately harmed by the fossil fuel industry and other sources of pollution.Read More
The Environmental Defense Center celebrates two separate actions by the federal government that will enhance protections for threatened and endangered whales along the Central Coast and beyond. First, President Biden just signed into law a suite of marine mammal protections, including the creation of a monitoring and mitigation program to reduce the risk of ship strikes and underwater noise for large whales. Second, the U.S. Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration made changes to vessel traffic in the Santa Barbara Channel to avoid interactions between large cargo ships and whales that can lead to collisions. EDC and our partners have been advocating for these actions for many years, and we celebrate this news as a win for whales.Read More
A federal judge ruled today that conservation and Indigenous groups can help legally defend Santa Barbara County’s denial of ExxonMobil’s proposal to truck vast quantities of oil along dangerous California roads. ExxonMobil is suing the County for rejecting the plan, which would have helped the company restart three Santa Barbara Channel oil platforms that have been shut down since the 2015 Refugio oil spill. The Environmental Defense Center, Get Oil Out!, Santa Barbara County Action Network, Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation, Center for Biological Diversity, and Wishtoyo Foundation cited the trucking proposal’s risks to public safety and environmental and cultural resources in their bid to join Santa Barbara County in defending the denial of the trucking proposal.Read More
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion Friday ruling that the operators of Twitchell Dam–the Bureau of Reclamation and the Santa Maria Valley Water Conservation District –can release water from the Dam to comply with the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”). This ruling marks an important step toward protecting the endangered Southern California Steelhead in the Santa Maria River system. In 2019, plaintiffs San Luis Obispo Coastkeeper and Los Padres ForestWatch filed a lawsuit in federal district court, represented by the Environmental Defense Center, Sycamore Law, Inc., and Aqua Terra Aeris Law Group. The case alleges that the Dam’s operators are violating the 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 to benefit the watershed, wildlife, and local communities.Read More
The Environmental Defense Center (“EDC”) reached a final settlement with the City of Lompoc over ongoing violations of the federal Clean Water Act caused by the City’s operation of its municipal wastewater treatment facility. Evidenced by the City’s own reports, EDC discovered that the City has been discharging water contaminated with toxic pollutants for over twenty years into the San Miguelito Creek and the Santa Ynez River. These discharges threaten public recreation opportunities and impact downstream water quality and the health of the Santa Ynez River ecosystem, which is important to snowy plovers and other shorebirds, along with endangered steelhead that travel through the River estuary to the ocean and back upstream to spawning grounds as part of their lifecycle.Read More