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Press Room

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

Federal Government Plan Will Facilitate Harm to Endangered And Threatened Species Caused By Oil and Gas Activities in Santa Barbara County

Environmental groups expressed alarm at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s approval of a plan that will expedite the permitting process for oil and gas activities that will harm three endangered and threatened species in Santa Barbara County. The plan, which encompasses a broad range of activities, from exploration to drilling and production, storage, transportation, and decommissioning, will allow oil companies to kill or injure the endangered California tiger salamander and Lompoc yerba santa and the threatened California red-legged frog. Although titled a “General Conservation Plan,” this plan is a holdover from the Trump Administration designed to expedite oil and gas drilling in Santa Barbara County, at the expense of endangered and threatened wildlife and plants, the sensitive coastline, and the health of our communities.

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ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS PREVAIL IN CALIFORNIA OFFSHORE FRACKING CASE

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion today ruling that the federal government violated environmental protection laws when it approved permits for fracking and acidizing from platforms offshore California. Today’s ruling protects the sensitive coastline and marine waters, local communities, and wildlife, including threatened and endangered species, from the risky practices of offshore fracking and acidizing. As the Court stated, the government had “disregarded necessary caution when dealing with the unknown effects of well stimulation treatments and the data gaps associated with a program of regular fracking offshore California.” The Court agreed with the Environmental Defense Center and Santa Barbara Channelkeeper that the government failed to conduct full environmental review, and should have prepared an Environmental Impact Statement to address the impacts of fracking and acidizing on wildlife, the Santa Barbara Channel, and endangered and threatened species.

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Christina McGinnis, Lauren Trujillo, and Gerardo Ayala Join Board of Environmental Defense Center

The Environmental Defense Center (EDC) is proud to announce that Christina McGinnis, Lauren Trujillo, and Gerardo (Gera) Ayala have joined the organization’s board of directors. Ms. McGinnis serves as EDC’s Governance Committee Chair and is an environmental consultant who previously worked for EDC and previously served on its board as co-President. Ms. Trujillo serves as EDC’s Secretary and works as the Director of the Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation. Mr. Ayala has decades of experience serving as both staff and as a board member of nonprofit organizations and currently works for the Santa Barbara County Education Office. All three directors bring extensive experience with local nonprofits and community engagement.

 

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Violet Sage Walker and the Late Tribal Chief Fred Collins to Receive Environmental Hero Award at EDC’s Green & Blue Event 

On Sunday, June 5th, the Environmental Defense Center (EDC) will honor Violet Sage Walker and Fred Eagle Chief “SLO”W,” (Violet’s father, who passed away in 2021), as part of the organization’s annual event: Green & Blue: A Coastal Celebration. Violet and Fred 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.  Violet and Fred are fitting local additions to this illustrious group and are being recognized for their leadership in protecting our coastal resources, in part through their nomination of the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary, of which EDC has long been an active advocate. 

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Legal Actions Challenge Huge Logging Project in Los Padres National Forest

A coalition of environmental, business, and recreational organizations—joined by the County of Ventura and the City of Ojai—filed suit in federal court today to challenge a commercial logging and vegetation removal project atop Pine Mountain and Reyes Peak in the Los Padres National Forest. The project area—equivalent in size to 575 American football fields—is located on ancestral lands of the Chumash. It is historically and culturally important to Indigenous people, popular with locals and tourists for a range of recreational activities, designated critical habitat for the endangered California condor, and home to other sensitive wildlife, rare plants, old-growth conifer forests, and unique ecosystems.

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Santa Barbara County Rejects ExxonMobil Oil-Trucking Plan

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted today to reject 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 Refugio disaster seven years ago.

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Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary Designation to Advance

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced it is seeking public comment on designation of the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary. Nominated by the Northern Chumash Tribal Council in 2015, the proposed sanctuary would stretch from Cambria to Gaviota Creek and offshore to include Rodriguez Seamount, Arguello Canyon, and Santa Lucia Bank. This area includes sacred submerged sites of the Chumash Peoples, important oceanographic features, and prime habitat for marine life. 

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Santa Barbara County Planning Commission Rejects ExxonMobil’s Plan to Restart Offshore Platforms, Truck Oil

The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission has voted to deny ExxonMobil’s proposal to transport oil by tanker trucks along hazardous California highway so it can restart three drilling platforms off the Santa Barbara coast. The 3-2 initial vote came unexpectedly on Sept. 29, during the first of two days of scheduled public hearings on the project, and is expected to be followed Nov. 3 with a formal vote and findings recommending the Board of Supervisors deny the project.

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Santa Barbara County to Hold Public Hearings on ExxonMobil’s Plan to Restart Offshore Platforms, Truck Oil

The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission will hold online public hearings Sept. 29 and Oct. 1 on ExxonMobil’s proposal to transport oil by tanker trucks along hazardous California highways so it can restart three drilling platforms off the Santa Barbara coast.  The plan calls for up to 24,800 oil-filled truck trips per year on coastal Highway 101 and hazardous Route 166, 24 hours a day, to refineries for up to seven years or whenever a new coastal oil pipeline is completed, whichever is shorter. ExxonMobil’s three offshore platforms near Santa Barbara were shut down in 2015 after the Plains All American Pipeline ruptured and spilled thousands of gallons of oil along the California coast.

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Nine Members of Congress Support Environmental Groups in Lawsuit to Protect Against Offshore Fracking

Nine members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including Representative Salud Carbajal, filed a brief in support of appeals filed by the Environmental Defense Center and Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, the State of California, and other environmental groups, in their case challenging federal government agencies’ approval of offshore fracking and acidizing.  The brief, which was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, explains why the federal government should have conducted thorough environmental review before approving such activities. 

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Santa Barbara County Staff Recommends Approval of ExxonMobil’s Plan to Restart Offshore Platforms, Truck Oil

Santa Barbara County’s Planning and Development Department has issued a staff report recommending that policymakers approve ExxonMobil’s proposal to transport oil by tanker trucks so it can restart three drilling platforms off the California coast. Opponents of the project vow to stop it, starting at Santa Barbara County Planning Commission hearings on the plan set for Sept. 29 and Oct. 1. 

The report reverses the position staff took last year recommending against the use of hazardous Highway 166 as too dangerous. After that recommendation and the announcement by Phillips 66 that it will shut down its Santa Maria refinery and related pipelines — Exxon’s preferred destination for getting its offshore oil to market — by 2023, the company delayed the project. A revised final environmental impact report was released last month.

 

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Santa Barbara County Releases ExxonMobil’s Revised Plan to Restart Offshore Platforms, Truck Oil in California

Santa Barbara County has released a revised final environmental impact report for ExxonMobil’s proposal to transport oil by tanker trucks so it can restart three drilling platforms off California, setting up hearings and a vote on the project this fall. Santa Barbara County Planning Commission hearings on the plan were set for Sept. 29 and Oct. 1.  The plan calls for up to 70 oil-filled trucks per day on coastal Highway 101 and hazardous Route 166, 24 hours a day, for up to seven years. Santa Barbara County planning staff last year recommended against trucking on Route 166 as too dangerous for motorists and natural resources such as the Cuyama River.

 

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White House & Governor Newsom Agree to Open Two Areas of California Coast to Offshore Wind

Today, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Dr. Colin Kahl, and Governor Gavin Newsom announced an agreement to open two areas of the California Coast to offshore floating wind. This agreement includes an extension of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management 2018 Morro Bay Call Area. This Call Area now encompasses 399 square miles, approximately 20 miles off the coast near Morro Bay and Cambria, and would accommodate 3 GW of energy production.  

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Environmental Defense Center Brings on New Staff

The Environmental Defense Center (EDC) is pleased to announce the addition of Rachel Kondor as a Staff Attorney and Peter Jones as a Legal Fellow.  Ms. Kondor is well known to this community because she previously served as a District Representative for Congresswoman Lois Capps. In this role Ms. Kondor developed the Congresswoman’s legislation to designate wilderness, wild and scenic rivers, the Carrizo Plain National Monument, and the Condor National Recreational Trail in the Los Padres National Forest. Prior to that, she served as a Senior Legislative Assistant for environmental and tribal matters to Congressman Raúl Grijalva, staffing him in his role on the Natural Resources Committee and as Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands. Ms. Kondor also has extensive experience working on environmental policy as an attorney and consultant for various nonprofit organizations.

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