Court allows environmentalists’ request to intervene in Exxon Trucking case
SANTA BARBARA, California– A federal judge ruled today that conservation and Indigenous groups can help legally defend Santa Barbara County’s denial of ExxonMobil’s proposal to ship large amounts of oil along dangerous California highways.
ExxonMobil is suing the county for rejecting the plan, which would have helped the company restart three Santa Barbara Canal oil rigs that have been shut down since the 2015 Refugio oil spill.
The Environmental Defense Center, Get Oil Out!, Santa Barbara County Action Network, Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation, Center for Biological Diversity, and Wishtoyo Foundation cited the trucking proposal’s risks to public safety and environmental and cultural resources in their attempt to join Santa Barbara County in defending the denial of the trucking proposal.
In March 2022, the board of supervisors rejected ExxonMobil’s proposal to transport more than 460,000 gallons of oil per day for up to seven years. In May 2022, ExxonMobil filed a lawsuit against the county’s denial in federal court in Los Angeles. Environmental groups have sought to join the lawsuit to help ensure the dangerous project does not go ahead, preventing further risks of oil spills, traffic accidents and air pollution. in our communities.
Today, the court granted the groups’ request and recognized their important interests in ensuring that ExxonMobil’s denial of the project is upheld.
“Trucking is one of the most dangerous ways to transport oil. Recent oil tanker accidents prove how dangerous ExxonMobil’s proposal to restart its offshore oil rigs and transport crude oil along scenic and perilous routes is. Our research revealed that there have been eight serious accidents involving tankers along ExxonMobil’s proposed route since 2007, resulting in fatalities, oil spills, injuries, fires and road closures. said Linda Krop, chief attorney for the Environmental Defense Center, which represents members of the organization, Get Oil Out!, Santa Barbara County Action Network, Sierra Club and Surfrider Foundation. “We are committed to ensuring that ExxonMobil’s project does not proceed – to protect the health and safety of our communities, our climate and our coastline.”
“I am outraged that Exxon has the nerve to sue Santa Barbara County for trying to protect people from oil trucks,” said Julie Teel Simmonds, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The oil that contaminated California beaches in 2015 came from this company’s offshore platforms, which operate in public waters. Our coast has already suffered so much from offshore drilling, and this filthy industry has no right to increase the risk by trucking huge amounts of oil on some of our most dangerous highways.
ExxonMobil’s plan would have added up to 24,800 oil-filled truck trips a year on coastal Highway 101 and dangerous Highway 166. ExxonMobil’s three hubs off Santa Barbara were shut down in 2015 after the Plains All American pipeline ruptured and spilled over 450,000 gallons of heavy crude oil onto our beaches and into the Santa Barbara Canal, spilling into Orange County. In 2020, Santa Barbara County planning staff recommended a tank truck ban on Route 166 after a major accident spilled over 4,500 gallons into the Cuyama River.
“Exxon’s risky proposal to truck 460,000 gallons of oil along our coastline and down a dangerous mountain highway is not just an imminent accident, but an accident that will be occur. This is exactly why Get Oil Out! continue to oppose reckless projects like this,” said Michael Lyons, President of Get Oil Out!. “As such, we are delighted that GOO! and its environmental partners are now stakeholders in this important matter,” he added.
“A 2020 oil tanker spill on Highway 166 threatened to pollute the Twitchell Reservoir, which is the cornerstone of the Santa Maria Valley agricultural economy and the source of drinking water for 200,000 residents,” said Ken Hough of the Santa Barbara County Action Network.
The county’s rejection earlier this year of ExxonMobil’s proposal was based on the project’s significant and unavoidable damage to biological, water and cultural resources in the event of a spill, as well as the project’s other threats to public health, safety and general well-being.
“Surfrider Foundation Santa Barbara Chapter has worked tirelessly for decades to protect the Gaviota Coast from inappropriate development and destruction at the hands of the oil industry. The history of oil industry damage to Santa Barbara dates back to the infamous 1969 oil spill, which some people consider a watershed moment in the development of the environmental movement,” said Ken Palley, executive committee member of Surfrider’s Santa Barbara Chapter. “We are thrilled with this decision because it is a step towards protecting our beautiful and irreplaceable coastline from further catastrophic oil spills.”
“ExxonMobil cannot be allowed to bully local governments and poison communities,” said Katie Davis, president of the Santa Barbara-Ventura chapter of the Sierra Club. “The county followed the law to determine the risks of this project – which would restart aging offshore oil rigs, pump carcinogenic air pollution from their onshore treatment plant and send explosive oil trucks down dangerous roads – prevailed. about all the possible benefits, even before considering the urgent need to get out of the fossil fuels that are causing the climate crisis.
See the video produced by @vacationland for @environmentaldefensecenter. Made by @offline.media.account and @nicholas_weissman.