Four Years After the Refugio Oil Spill and the Fight Continues

Santa Barbara, CA, May 16, 2019 – May 19 marks the four-year anniversary of the 2015 Plains All American Pipeline Refugio Oil Spill that released more than 140,000 gallons of heavy crude along 150 miles of the California Coast, from Gaviota to the Channel Islands, and as far south as Orange County. The spill closed public beaches, 138 square miles of fisheries, and killed hundreds of marine mammals and seabirds. Four years later, the threat of another spill looms large as ExxonMobil seeks to restart its offshore platforms and truck its oil along the same coastal route.

For the past four years, the Environmental Defense Center (“EDC”) has been working diligently to ensure restoration of our coastline to its pristine, pre-spill condition and prevent future oil related disasters. At the same time, EDC is also fighting countless efforts to open our coast to more oil and gas drilling, restart fracking from the platforms just off our coast, and dangerously transport oil by trucks.

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“It is unconscionable that, while we await full restoration of our coastline from the Plains All American spill, EDC and our partners must simultaneously work to prevent new oil and gas projects,” said Linda Krop, EDC’s Chief Counsel. “Communities impacted by the 2015 oil spill have spoken up in opposition to trucking oil, fracking, and increasing offshore oil production. In addition, Californians strongly support renewable energy development as an alternative, understanding its necessity to mitigate the impacts of climate change that are already upon us, from extreme weather events to sea level rise.”

While there is no end in sight to the threats that our community is facing, EDC remains vigilant in protecting the California Coast from oil and gas development. Here is what EDC is working on:

  • Defeat a dangerous proposal for ExxonMobil to resume production from three of its offshore oil platforms that have been shut down since the Refugio Oil Spill, and truck oil along the Gaviota Coast
  • Oppose new offshore oil and gas production in federal waters
  • End fracking from platforms
  • Advocate for stricter pipeline safety regulations
  • Improve oil spill response

EDC represents Sierra Club, Get Oil Out!, and EDC in opposition to the Trump Administration’s proposed offshore oil and gas leasing program. EDC represents Santa Barbara Channelkeeper and EDC in litigation to stop fracking from platforms offshore California. EDC represents Get Oil Out! and SBCAN in opposition to ExxonMobil’s proposal to restart its three Santa Ynez Unit platforms (Hondo, Harmony, and Heritage) and truck its oil from the Gaviota Coast to Santa Maria and Kern County.

Protecting the coast from offshore oil and gas development is a primary focus of EDC, which was formed in direct response to the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill. Since then EDC has defeated several oil development projects, blocked three proposals to import liquefied natural gas, and terminated forty federal offshore oil leases. Restoring our coast is critical to not only heal the natural environment, but to support our important tourism and fishing economies.

The Environmental Defense Center, a non-profit law firm, protects and enhances the local environment through education, advocacy, and legal action and works primarily within Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo counties. Since 1977, EDC has empowered community-based organizations to advance environmental protection.  Program areas include climate and energy, and protecting clean water, the Santa Barbara Channel, and open space and wildlife. Learn more about EDC at www.EnvironmentalDefenseCenter.org