April 17, 2017

SANTA BARBARA, CA – Local environmentalists and community members are celebrating the announcement that Venoco has quitclaimed its oil and gas leases offshore Ellwood near Santa Barbara. The leases include those supporting operations from Platform Holly and the Ellwood Pier. The California State Lands Commission will take over the process of plugging the wells and decommissioning the structures. The Ellwood Onshore Facility (EOF), which processes oil and gas from Platform Holly, will also likely be decommissioned.

The environmental community has been united against Venoco’s controversial projects for decades. At various times, the oil company has used Platform Holly for Acid Well Stimulation (acidizing) and in recent years has sought authorization to expand drilling from Holly using slant drilling techniques, reaching more than four miles into a Coastal Sanctuary. The Environmental Defense Center, Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter, Get Oil Out! and Citizens Planning Association have worked statewide with legislators and before the State Lands Commission to build support for the denial of the expanded drilling proposal. Additionally, since the late 1990s, the groups have worked locally through the Santa Barbara County and then the City of Goleta to advocate for the closing of the Ellwood Onshore Facility.

“We have waited for this day for a long time,” exclaimed Fran Farina, Fran Farina of the Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter. “The Sierra Club has been fighting oil development offshore Ellwood since the 1980s, when ARCO first wanted to build additional platforms next to UCSB.”

The Environmental Defense Center (“EDC”) has been representing the Sierra Club, Get Oil Out! and Citizens Planning Association in their opposition to oil development in this area for decades. “We are pleased that Venoco’s aging oil facilities will be removed, and the area restored to its natural condition,” said Linda Krop, Chief Counsel of EDC. “Venoco’s operations have threatened our coast with risks of oil spills, greenhouse gas emissions, and dangerous hydrogen sulfide leaks. This action is long overdue and a huge victory for our community.”

“Venoco’s action to quitclaim its leases is a turning point in our State’s role in offshore oil development,” said Michael Lyons, President of Get Oil Out! “Platform Holly is the last remaining platform in State waters, and its removal will symbolize our transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.”

“The community has worked long and hard to protect our coast from Venoco’s risky operations,” noted Lee Moldaver, President of Citizens Planning Association.  “We are pleased that our persistence has finally paid off.”

The Ellwood Pier was built in 1949, and Platform Holly and the Ellwood Onshore Facility were constructed in 1966. All of these facilities pose a threat to public health and the environment. In 1994, the Pier leases were shut down following an oil spill. Also, Platform Holly and the Ellwood Onshore Facility were temporarily shut down in 1999 following an H2S leak. All of the facilities have been shut down since the Plains All American Pipeline spill at Refugio in May 2015.

Over the past few months, State Lands Commissioners Betty Yee and Gavin Newsom expressed opposition to Venoco’s plan to expand production from Platform Holly. Also in 2016, newly elected Goleta City Councilmembers Stuart Kasdin and Kyle Richards offered support to shut down the Ellwood Onshore Facility. Combined with the inability to transport oil and gas due to the shutdown of the All American Pipeline, these actions likely contributed to Venoco’s decision to abandon its plans at Ellwood.


The Environmental Defense Center

The Environmental Defense Center, a non-profit law firm, protects and enhances the local environment through education, advocacy, and legal action and works primarily within Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties. Since 1977, EDC has empowered community-based organizations to advance environmental protection. EDC’s focus areas include protection of the Santa Barbara Channel, ensuring clean water, preserving open space and wildlife, and addressing climate and energy. EDC represents the Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter, Get Oil Out! and Citizens Planning Association in opposition to Venoco’s South Ellwood Project. Learn more about EDC at EnvironmentalDefenseCenter.org.

Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization. Inspired by nature, we are 1.4 million of your friends and neighbors, working together to protect our communities and the planet.

Get Oil Out! is a non-profit corporation whose mission is to protect the natural environment and beauty of the Santa Barbara Channel from the adverse effects of oil development.

Citizens Planning Association is a non-profit corporation formed in 1960 dedicated to defending the County’s natural resources and upholding the County’s planning policies and objectives.




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