Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 27, 2015

Contact: Miyoko Sakashita, (415) 632-5308,

California Urged to Reject Plan to Feed More Oil Into
Pipeline System That Failed Near Santa Barbara

GOLETA, Calif.— The Center for Biological Diversity today urged the California State Lands Commission to reject a proposal by Venoco to dramatically increase one of its offshore oil operations and feed the crude into the same decades-old pipeline system that failed last week and spilled more than 100,000 gallons of oil near Santa Barbara. Venoco’s proposal would allow the company to tap offshore tracts of oil that have been off-limits.

The Center’s letter highlights that state law requires a thorough analysis of the recent oil spill, and it urged the commission to consider the environmental risks of prolonging the lifespan of aging infrastructure and analyze an alternative that decommissions the broken pipeline and offshore oil development.

“It would be a grave mistake for the state to approve a project that will feed more crude into a pipeline system that just spewed thousands of gallons of oil into the Pacific,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans program director at the Center. “California should pause to consider whether the pipeline should reopen at all because oil development deepens the harms to our environment, public health and climate.” 

Using a loophole in state law that prohibits offshore oil and gas leasing in state waters, Venoco seeks to amend the boundaries of its existing lease (Lease No. PRC 3242) to allow it to develop 3,400 acres in the California Coastal Sanctuary. Venoco estimates the proposal would increase oil production at Platform Holly by about 269,000 gallons (6,400 barrels) per day, which would be transported to the Las Flores facility and through the Plains All American Pipeline that ruptured last week. The broken line was 28 years old, and there are sections of the Platform Holly pipeline system that are more than 40 years old. Federal data shows significantly increased risks of failure as pipelines approach 30 years old.

“There’s no such thing as safe offshore drilling and oil transportation. Fossil fuels are inherently hazardous because they’re explosive and toxic, running through pipes that corrode over time,” Sakashita said. “California must lead our transition to clean energy by turning away from fossil fuels, and it can only do this by quitting dangerous practices like offshore oil drilling and fracking.” 

The Center’s letter urges the California State Lands Commission to fully analyze the impacts of the oil spill and recommends that the commission’s environmental review look at the environmental damage from the spill and the dangers of pipelines. The Center also urges the commission to examine the project’s reliance on Line 901 and the effects of increasing the lifespan of aging oil and gas infrastructure. While the pipeline that leaked was built in 1987, Platform Holly’s offshore oil pipeline was built in 1969 with an upgrade in 1997.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 825,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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