Stopping this proposal is an important step in the ongoing shift from fossil fuels pollution to clean energy solutions. Big thanks to our coalition partners that were instrumental during this campaign including the Environmental Defense Center, Sierra Club, Los Padres Forest Watch and others. The Surfrider Foundation Santa Barbara County Chapter helped to raise awareness about this campaign and we were included on KTLA 5 evening news.
Back in May of 2015, the Plains All American Pipeline ruptured at Refugio State Beach and resulted in an estimated $74 million loss. This loss included property taxes, lessened worker income, and reduced federal royalties lost to Santa Barbara County, according to the California Economic Forecast Director. Spills like those caused by Plains All-American shut down fisheries, shutter beachside businesses, and deter campers and tourists from visiting our coastline. The Refugio oil spill of 142,800 U.S. gallons of crude oil was due to a corroded pipeline and gross negligence. We won’t allow this to happen along our coastline again.
On March 21, 2020, a tanker that rolled over on Highway 166, spilling 6,000 gallons of crude oil into the Cuyama River about 20 miles east of Highway 101. It’s accidents like these we can’t afford to make.
Offshore drilling is fundamentally at odds with our coastal economy and way of life. Santa Barbara County has one of the most spectacular coastal areas in the nation. Californians and people from all over the world come here to fish, hike, kayak, surf, wine and dine, and enjoy our beaches. The coastal environment supports over 16,000 jobs and contributes $825 million to Santa Barbara County’s economy annually through tourism, ocean-based recreation, and fishing, alone. This vibrant coastal economy is reliant upon clean beaches and healthy, diverse, marine ecosystems.
Exxon’s offshore oil platforms Harmony, Heritage, and Hondo have been offline since the Plains All American Pipeline spill in 2015. If Exxon is permitted to truck oil, those three aging platforms will be brought back to life, putting our coastal economy at risk of another devastating oil spill. And trucking oil along winding and windy California highways comes with a host of other risks, including car accidents, fires, and explosions. The spills from accidents put thousands of gallons of crude oil onto roads, vegetation, and waterways. An oil spill from trucking would contaminate habitat, harm wildlife, and pollute river and ocean waters. Moreover, the most common threats to endangered and threatened species are vehicle collisions, oil spills, and climate change impacts.
Aside from quantifiable damage, other unquantified damage includes threatening marine life and loss of ecological services. Our businesses are inextricably tied to clean coastal waters that create jobs and enable us and our employees to support our families and put our children through school. Santa Barbara’s thriving coastal economy is directly threatened by oil spills, which are an inevitable and routine component of offshore drilling, oil trucking, and moving oil through pipelines.