Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, February 19, 2019

Contact: Miyoko Sakashita, (510) 844-7108,             

Santa Barbara Advances Plains' Coastal Oil Pipeline Project

Company That Caused 2015 Refugio Oil Spill Seeks to Restart Offshore Drilling

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Santa Barbara County has announced public hearings for the Plains All-American Pipeline’s proposal to build a coastal oil pipeline to serve offshore drilling platforms. It would follow the same route as Plains’ Line 901, the severely corroded pipeline that failed in 2015, causing a large coastal oil spill and idling the offshore platforms it served. 

A Santa Barbara jury last year found Plains criminally liable for that oil spill near Refugio State Beach and the hundreds of marine mammals and birds that were coated with oil and died. Most of the offshore drilling platforms it served are being decommissioned, but ExxonMobil has been trying to restart its three platforms, proposing to transport the oil by tanker trucks on local highways. 

“Plains Pipeline doesn’t deserve a second chance to spill oil along California’s coast. Californians want to end offshore drilling, not extend it with a new coastal oil pipeline,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans program director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Offshore drilling is a dirty and dangerous threat to marine life and coastal communities. It’s time for Plains Pipeline and ExxonMobil to pack it up and let Californians reclaim their coastline.”

The first public hearing on the project is scheduled for Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. in Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors hearing room, 105 E. Anapamu St., Santa Barbara. Plains’ proposed 124-mile oil pipeline would ship the offshore oil to processing facilities in San Luis Obispo and Kern counties.

Oil pipelines regularly fail in California. Federal pipeline data shows there were 621 pipeline incidents in California from 1986 through 2014, causing 200 injuries, 48 fatalities and almost $800 million in property damage. A Center analysis of federal pipeline data found pipeline failures are most common after 30 years and shortly after they’re completed, as a result of faulty welds and other construction-related problems.

“Building this pipeline would lock in offshore drilling in California for decades, just like the Trump administration wants. But huge bipartisan majorities in coastal states around the country oppose new offshore drilling,” Sakashita said. “Let’s reject efforts by Trump, Plains and ExxonMobil to force offshore oil drilling on future generations.”

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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