Santa Barbara County to Hold Public Hearings on ExxonMobil’s Plan to Restart Offshore Platforms, Truck Oil

September 28, 2021

Coalition of 35 Groups Urges Planning Commission to Reject Project

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.— The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission will hold online public hearings Sept. 29 and Oct. 1 on ExxonMobil’s proposal to transport oil by tanker trucks along hazardous California highways so it can restart three drilling platforms off the Santa Barbara coast.

The plan calls for up to 24,800 oil-filled truck trips per year on coastal Highway 101 and hazardous Route 166, 24 hours a day, to refineries for up to seven years or whenever a new coastal oil pipeline is completed, whichever is shorter. ExxonMobil’s three offshore platforms near Santa Barbara were shut down in 2015 after the Plains All American Pipeline ruptured and spilled thousands of gallons of oil along the California coast.

ExxonMobil’s oil trucking scheme is strongly opposed by a coalition of 35 community and conservation organizations, who recently sent a letter urging the commission to reject the project. They cited the project’s threat of more offshore oil spills, fueling climate change, and endangering motorists and communities with dangerous oil tanker truck crashes.

“Now is not the time to turn the clock back and return to our old ways of relying on fossil fuels to meet our energy needs,” the letter concludes. “The County of Santa Barbara is moving towards a clean energy future by adopting renewable energy targets and joining the Central Coast Community Energy program. Allowing ExxonMobil to resume oil production off our coast will lead to decades of fossil fuel production that we cannot afford.”

What: Santa Barbara County Planning Commission hearings on ExxonMobil’s oil trucking plan and related environmental documents.

When: Sept. 29 and Oct. 1, starting at 9 a.m. both days.

Where: Online hearings will be livestreamed at: https://www.countyofsb.org/ceo/csbtv/livestream.sbc

California suffers hundreds of oil-truck incidents a year, and many result in oil spills. There were 258 trucking accidents along the route from 2015 to 2021, California Highway Patrol data shows, resulting in 10 deaths and 110 injuries. A tanker truck crashed off Highway 166 in March 2020, spilling more than 4,500 gallons of oil into the Cuyama River above Twitchell Reservoir.

A majority of Santa Barbara County voters say they oppose proposals to restart ExxonMobil’s offshore drilling platforms in the Santa Barbara Channel, according to a November 2019 poll. Nearly 3 out of 4 respondents said they were concerned “about the safety of our local highways if up to 70 oil tanker trucks are allowed on our roads each day.”

The coalition opposing ExxonMobil’s trucking plan includes Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation, 350 Santa Barbara, the Center for Biological Diversity, Climate First: Replacing Oil and Gas (CFROG), Environmental Defense Center, Food and Water Action, GOO!, SBCAN, Sierra Club’s Los Padres Chapter, UCSB Associated Students External Vice President for Statewide Affairs Esmeralda Quintero-Cubillan, UCSB Environmental Affairs Board (EAB), Surfrider Foundation Santa Barbara County Chapter, Los Padres ForestWatch, the Goleta Goodland Coalition, the Cuyama Valley Community Association and the Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation.

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