Local environmental groups are celebrating the end of four oil and gas leases in state waters directly offshore of the city of Carpinteria, terminated by the California State Lands Commission on June 28.
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 20 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. (This) 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.”
The Carone leases will now be placed 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,” said Carla Frisk of Get Oil Out!.
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.