Vandenberg Oil Drilling (Tranquillon Ridge)

  • Goal: Prevent oil drilling from Vandenberg Air Force Base into offshore waters.
  • Year Started: 2002
  • Clients: Get Oil Out! (GOO!), Citizens Planning Association of Santa Barbara County

In 1994, EDC helped pass the California Coastal Sanctuary Act, which bans any new offshore oil and gas leases in State waters as a means to protect the marine environment and reduce risk of oil spills. However, this Act contains an exception that allows a new state lease if the oil and gas field is already being drained by wells within adjacent federal waters. The only place in the state of CA subject to this exception is Tranquillon Ridge, located within a coastal sanctuary and designated as a Marine Protected Area. Tranquillon Ridge has long been sought after by oil developers including the most recent proposal by Sunset/Exxon to slant drill from a location on Vandenberg Air Force Base.  

The Sunset/Exxon proposal was introduced as a competing proposal to the historic and unprecedented 2008 settlement agreement between EDC and Plains Exploration & Production Company (PXP) in which PXP agreed to shut down four active oil platforms, hundreds of onshore oil wells, and remove two onshore oil and gas processing facilities in Santa Barbara County. Despite large support from local and state elected officials, the State Lands Commission rejected the proposal. Sunset/Exxon’s proposal to drill from onshore into offshore waters raises many of the same concerns as any other offshore drilling project in terms of generating the risk of a coastal oil spill, causing air and water pollution, and contributing to global climate change. Their proposal would also result in additional onshore impacts related to the construction and operation of a new drilling and production facility, pipelines, and a new processing facility, and it would not provide the same benefits that the PXP proposal included. Sunset/Exxon’s application has yet to be processed because they have not obtained landowner consent from VAFB for the onshore drilling site. However, they have not stopped trying! EDC will continue to oppose this project and urge VAFB to refrain from allowing this project to go forward on their property.

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