Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, April 12, 2019

Contact: Kristen Monsell, (914) 806-3467,

ExxonMobil Seeks to Restart Offshore Drilling Platforms, Truck Oil in California

Environmental Study Released, Santa Barbara Hearing Set

SANTA BARBARA— Santa Barbara County today released an environmental study and scheduled a hearing on ExxonMobil’s proposal to transport oil by tanker trucks so it can restart three drilling platforms off California.

The plan calls for up to 70 trucks per day carrying nearly 500,000 gallons of crude 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Platforms Heritage, Harmony and Hondo were shut down after the failure of a severely corroded coastal oil pipeline that served them. In September, a jury found Plains All American Pipeline criminally negligent for the pipeline failure and the resulting coastal oil spill. Plains has applied to build a new oil pipeline along the same route as the old one.

“Putting oil tankers on narrow highways is risky. Doing it so Exxon can resume dirty offshore drilling is a dangerous double whammy,” said Kristen Monsell, ocean legal director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Santa Barbara County has already suffered way too much oil industry pollution. County officials should put the brakes on the company’s perilous plan.”

The oil tanker trucks would travel up to 140 miles between ExxonMobil’s Las Flores Canyon processing facility and facilities in Kern County and near Santa Maria. The draft environmental impact report considers several alternatives to Exxon’s proposal, including a “reduced trucking alternative” that would allow up to 50 trucks per day and a no project alternative.

Santa Barbara County will hold a public meeting on the draft report on May 6. The public has until May 28 to comment on the draft environmental impact report.

Tanker trucks spill hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil per year, according to a 2009 American Petroleum Institute report. These oil spills can cause fires and explosions. An Associated Press study of six states where truck traffic has increased because of increased oil and gas drilling found that fatalities in traffic accidents have more than quadrupled since 2004 in some counties.  

California suffers hundreds of oil truck incidents a year, and many result in oil spills. One oil truck accident in 2000, for example, killed the driver and spilled nearly 7,000 gallons of oil, a substantial portion of which entered a river and spread to the ocean.

Oil spills near the Santa Barbara Channel threaten a wide range of federally protected endangered species, including blue whales, sea otters and leatherback sea turtles.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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