Venoco Ellwood Lease 421 Oil Development
- Goal: To prevent expansion of Venoco’s current oil and gas operations and protect the surrounding
- Year Started: 2007
- Clients: Sierra Club, Get Oil Out!, Citizens Planning Association
For years, EDC and our clients have worked to prevent Venoco, Inc. from expanding oil development offshore Ellwood, near UCSB and Goleta. Despite being shut down in 1994 after an oil spill, Venoco currently seeks to resume drilling and production from Lease 421 on the Ellwood Pier (located near Ellwood Mesa and Sandpiper Golf Course) and process the oil at the aging and unsightly Ellwood Onshore Facility (EOF). On behalf of our clients, we have raised concerns about the aging infrastructure, the risk of oil spills, and the inappropriate location of this drilling, located adjacent to the Ellwood Mesa, the popular Haskell’s beach with coastal tidepools, and at the eastern gateway to the Gaviota Coast. EDC and our clients are also concerned that Venoco proposes to process the oil and gas from Lease 421 at the EOF, the processing plant which we have spent decades working to phase out because it poses significant environmental and safety risks to the surrounding neighborhoods, including the Ellwood School, Ellwood Mesa, Sandpiper Golf Course, and the Bacara Hotel. In 1991, the site of the EOF was rezoned to Recreation, making the processing facilities current operations a nonconforming use.
In late 2014, the State Lands Commission certified an Environmental Impact Report and approved the project. The City of Goleta filed a lawsuit challenging the Commission’s action. EDC and our clients will continue to support the City’s efforts to stop the project and terminate the EOF in order to protect the surrounding community, recreational opportunities, and environmental resources.