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2019 Press Releases

Environmental Groups Continue to Oppose Aera’s Cat Canyon Oil Project

Santa Barbara County and the public are still waiting for complete information regarding Aera’s proposed change to its massive Cat Canyon oil project. Based on information released thus far, it is clear that the project will still cause unacceptable risks and impacts to the environment and public health and safety. 

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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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