Center for Biological Diversity

Media Advisory, May 3, 2019

Contact:  Blake Kopcho, Center for Biological Diversity, (805) 708-3435,
Maggie Hall, Environmental Defense Center, (805) 963-1622,
Katie Davis, Sierra Club (805) 451-4574,

Rally to Oppose ExxonMobil Plan to Resume Offshore Drilling, Truck Oil on California Highways

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.— Opponents will rally and testify Monday against ExxonMobil’s proposal to transport oil by tanker trucks so it can restart three drilling platforms off the California coast. Santa Barbara County is considering approving the project and holding a hearing on its draft environmental impact report.  

The plan calls for up to 70 trucks a day carrying nearly 500,000 gallons of crude on California’s coastal highway. The trucks will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Three ExxonMobil offshore platforms — Heritage, Harmony and Hondo — were shut down after the 2015 failure of Plains All American Pipeline’s severely corroded coastal oil pipeline that served them.

What: Community rally before a public hearing on ExxonMobil’s proposal to truck oil from its Las Flores Canyon processing facility near Santa Barbara to refineries in Kern County and near Santa Maria

When: Monday, May 6, rally at 5 p.m., hearing at 6 p.m.

Where: Rally outside the Santa Barbara County Administration Building, 105 E. Anapamu St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101; hearing inside the Board of Supervisors Hearing Room on the fourth floor

Who: Groups rallying against the project include the Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Defense Center, Get Oil Out, Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation, Food & Water Watch, Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation, Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation and CALPIRG at UCSB.

Background: ExxonMobil’s trucking proposal creates risks for California’s coastal environment by resuming offshore oil drilling, which is inherently dirty and dangerous, and for California motorists and communities because of the dangers of oil tanker trucks on narrow highways.

Tanker trucks spill hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil a 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 risen because of increased oil and gas drilling found that traffic accident fatalities 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.

Plains Pipeline, which was convicted of criminal negligence for the 2015 Refugio Oil Spill, has also proposed a new coastal pipeline along the same route. 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.

Quotes from participants:     

“ExxonMobil’s trucking proposal threatens marine life, coastal communities and California motorists,” said Blake Kopcho, ocean campaigner with the Center for Biological Diversity. “These decrepit offshore platforms should be decommissioned, not brought back to life. Oil tanker trucks crash more than most people realize, causing spills and explosions. ExxonMobil wants to place Californians at great risk just to extract the last barrels of oil from these aging wells.”

“In addition to allowing 70 crude oil trucks to travel up and down our coast each day, ExxonMobil’s proposal would resume oil drilling in our sensitive marine environment, contributing to climate change and posing the threat of an oil spill that would damage wildlife, such as the southern sea otter and western snowy plover,” said Linda Krop, chief counsel for the Environmental Defense Center, which represents Get Oil Out! and Santa Barbara County Action Network in opposition to ExxonMobil’s proposal. “These platforms have a history of risky well-stimulation practices, including fracking and acidizing, which involve the discharge of toxic chemicals into the ocean.”

“ExxonMobil’s proposed project threatens Chumash natural cultural resources, sensitive species habitats, and disproportionately burdened communities with the transportation of hazardous material through Santa Barbara County,” said Tevin Schmitt, a watershed scientist with the Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation. “ExxonMobil is responsible for one of the largest oil spills in U.S. history and other large spills around the world. The people who live in Santa Barbara County do not need any more problems associated with big oil as communities are already plagued by recent spills and oil expansion in the area.”

“The Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation voted on March 17, 2019 to oppose ExxonMobil’s proposal to transport oil with tanker trucks throughout the Central Coast and inland regions” said Gino Altamirano, chair of the group. “The draft supplemental EIR is inadequate and does not provide sufficient analysis of adverse impacts to natural and cultural resources, among others.”

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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