West Coast
edhat Santa Barbara file photo

Environmental Groups Celebrate Termination of Offshore State Oil Leases

Environmental groups celebrated [Friday], after the California State Lands Commission terminated four oil and gas leases in state waters directly offshore the City of Carpinteria in Santa Barbara County.

The leases were purchased by Carone Petroleum Corporation in 1997, at which time Carone proposed to develop the leases by slant drilling from federal Platform Hogan.  For more than twenty years the Environmental Defense Center (EDC), a public interest environmental law firm, has been representing the Carpinteria Valley Association, Get Oil Out!, and Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter in opposition to this proposal, as well as a similar proposal by Venoco, to develop the Paredon project.  With the termination of the Paredon leases offshore Carpinteria and the Venoco leases offshore Ellwood, the Carone leases were the last active leases in State waters offshore Santa Barbara County.

“The coast of Santa Barbara County is finally free from the threat of oil drilling in State waters,” said Linda Krop, Chief Counsel of EDC.  “The termination of State oil leases also sends a strong message to the federal government that our communities are doing everything in our power to prevent oil and gas development off our coast.”

The Carone leases were located immediately adjacent to the City of Carpinteria, in close proximity to the public open space at Carpinteria Bluffs, the seal rookery, and near homes and agricultural fields.  An oil spill from development of these leases would have had a devastating impact on the community, wildlife, and public beaches.  The termination of the leases means that this area will never be at risk for oil development.

Carpinteria Valley Association President Mike Wondolowski commented, “Fifty years ago, our coast was ground zero for the largest oil spill in US waters at that time. Today’s action ensures there will be no sequel to that horror movie, and the community of Carpinteria can enjoy the Carpinteria Salt Marsh, Carpinteria Bluffs with its harbor seal rookery, and the beaches in between knowing this threat has been eliminated.

Carla Frisk, Get Oil Out! Board member stated, "Since its inception 50 years ago, Get Oil Out! (GOO!) has worked diligently to retire leases in State waters just like the Carone Oil leases.  We are extremely pleased that the State Lands Commission has voted to terminate these leases, thereby placing them under the permanent protection of the California Coastal Sanctuary Act, adding yet another milestone towards our ultimate goal of ridding offshore Santa Barbara County from all oil and gas development.”

"This lease termination will permanently protect the coastal ocean waters of Carpinteria by adding a former oil lease to the coastal sanctuary. This is a victory for Carpinteria and everyone who values clean water and vibrant ocean ecosystems," said Katie Davis, Chair, Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter.

The State of California has not issued any offshore oil and gas leases since the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill; however, several leases were approved prior to that date.  In 1994, the State legislature passed the California Coastal Sanctuary Act, which imposed a ban on any new leasing in State waters (the first three miles offshore).  The Act further required that as existing leases were terminated, those areas would be added to the Coastal Sanctuary and permanently protected from future leasing or development.  Now that the Carone leases have been terminated, that area will be added to the State’s Coastal Sanctuary. Story homepage.