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2022 Press Releases

Court Allows Environmentalists’ Request to Intervene in Exxon Trucking Case

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.

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Environmental Groups Prevail in Case to Protect California Steelhead in the Santa Maria River System

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.

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EDC and the City of Lompoc Settle Clean Water Act Lawsuit to Address City’s Toxic Wastewater Problem

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.

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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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