Tanker Trucks Denied



(Santa Barbara, CA) On Tuesday, June 9, Santa Barbara County Planning and Development Department Assistant Director Dianne Black denied a requested emergency permit to transport crude oil by truck from the Gaviota Coast to Santa Maria. The request was made based on the need to shut in offshore oil platforms due to the closure of the Plains All American Pipeline following the Refugio Oil Spill.

“All oil development carries significant environmental risks, and the Gaviota Coast has seen the consequences of shoddy pipeline transportation practices. After that experience, Exxon’s proposal to transport crude oil from the Gaviota Coast by truck was irresponsible,” stated Gaviota Coast Conservancy’s President, Phil McKenna.

“Exxon failed to make even a credible case that there was an emergency that justified skirting state and local environmental laws,” stated Gaviota Coast Conservancy attorney Marc Chytilo. “Oil development demands the highest levels of environmental scrutiny, not back door emergency exemptions.”

Gaviota Coast Conservancy thanks Assistant Director Black and County staff for their hard work in carefully reviewing this important issue. 


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GCC urges denial of emergency trucking application

(Special report by on oil trucks by Becca Claassen of SB Food and Water Watch) Please help us stop Exxon from trucking millions of gallons of toxic crude through our county! And urge our County Board of Supervisors to prioritize a 100% renewable Community Choice Energy program in next year's budget.
Here's the latest report on Exxon's request for 24/7 oil tanker trucks on the 101 in the June 5 LA Times.

Dianne Black will make the decision by Wednesday, as Planning and Development Director Glenn Russell has recused himself due to conflict of interest.
Please sign this petition and attend two very important events this week: 

1) Rally: "Not by Pipelines, nor Trains, nor Tanker Trucks! Renewable Energy Now!"
     This Monday, June 8 at 12 noon (Bring signs and chants!), in Santa Barbara at the County Courthouse Sunken Gardens, 1100 Anacapa St, and in Santa Maria: at City Hall, 110 East Cook St at Broadway.

2) Attend SB County Board of Supervisors Budget Hearing, on Wednesday, June 10, either 11am or 1pm (RSVP to 350santabarbara@gmail.com for a time update). Ask them to allocate funds to Community Choice Energy! This is our region's best chance to decrease our dependence on dirty fossil fuels locally. Santa Barbara: 105 East Anapamu St. 4th floor. Santa Maria: 511 East Lakeside Pkwy.

GCC and Naples Coalition letter urging denial of emergency trucking application

Director Russell and County Staff:

Please accept this brief communication regarding the proposed Emergency Permit requested by Exxon for trucking of oil from the Las Flores Canyon Facility. 

On behalf of the Gaviota Coast Conservancy and Naples Coalition, we oppose this application and ask that you deny it.  There are both inadequate justifications, and an incomplete submittal.  The California Environmental Quality Act mandates environmental review of the application, and the request does not qualify for CEQA’s emergency exemption, which clearly requires a “clear and imminent danger demanding immediate action to prevent or mitigate loss of . . . essential public services.  CEQA Guidelines sec 15359. 

The applicant’s contrived justification clearly fails this test.  There is no imminent danger – only a future gas shortage, if the application were to be believed.  The application states there are at least 30 days before wells must be shut in, allowing time for SoCalGas to address the potential shortfall.  Significantly, summer is our low natural gas use period, so demand is reduced.  Finally, the County recently approved and SoCalGas has completed a substantial expansion of its reservoir capacity at the La Goleta Plant with one of the justifications being to be able to weather supply interruptions.   The applicant’s justification is untenable and fails to qualify as an emergency under CEQA and the coastal zoning ordinance.

Any future natural gas shortfall cannot meet CEQA’s definition of an emergency, and thus no exemption is available and this proposal is subject to complete environmental review.  The project entails a number of potentially significant impacts to air quality, public safety, traffic and circulation, ESHA and biological resources, visual resources, recreational resources and is inconsistency with land use policies adopted to protect the environment.   Similarly under the County’s zoning ordinances, the situation does not justify the findings of emergency necessary to approve proposed permit.

GCC and the Naples Coalition are deeply concerned with the risks associated with handling of crude oil and natural gas, with toxic air emissions, with the loss of recreational resources from increased traffic, from impacts to the Gaviota Coast’s visual resources from additional industrialization and a constant flow of trucks, risks to terrestrial and marine habitat, impacts to cultural and spiritual resources, and the increased potential for another oil spill from the facility or from the trucks. 

We ask that you deny this application.

Please place this office on the mailing list to receive notice of your decision in this matter and any related proceedings.


Marc Chytilo

For Gaviota Coast Conservancy and Naples Coalition


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Refugio Oil Spill, 6-1-15 Report: Stand In The Sand


June 1: #RefugioOilSpill @GaviotaCoastC Update

The Santa Barbara Independent, in keeping with its record of extraordinary reporting on this terrible spill, published on Friday an in-depth article on oil transportation safety, pipeline shut-off valves, and the lack of transparency from Plains All American Pipeline, the owner of the ruptured pipe. Noozhawk, another leader in spill coverage, mentioned Phil McKenna's message today. They attended the Unified Command Open House, and left with more questions. Here are their Stand in the Sand images. Here's the Unified Command Report for today. Volunteers (including from GCC, thank you!) have been assisting with endangered Snowy Plover and habitat protection (now seeing oil), and with Unified Command-led cleanup operations.

On Sunday, May 31st, Gaviota Coast Conservancy joined forces with a host of other local and national groups plus over 500 of our fellow concerned citizens for Stand In The Sand, a rally to protest the nearly two-week-old Refugio Oil Spill and to press for greater reliance on renewable forms of energy and greater accountability from the oil industry.

Santa Barbara mayor Helene Schneider addressed the energetic audience, and spoke for many in attendance when she said, “We have seen this before: the 1969 spill in the Santa Barbara Channel, the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, and in 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico. The reality is that under the status quo we will see more spills like these in the future. We are here because we want to see another alternative. We’re here because we want to get ourselves to a better place that is less reliant on oil and more reliant on new clean and renewable technologies.”

In addition, our own Phil McKenna, President of Gaviota Coast Conservancy, delivered a powerful and deeply moving speech to the supportive attendees. Touching on the history, biodiversity, and fragility of the Gaviota Coast, it's well worth reading, and we've reprinted it here in its entirety.


President Phil McKenna's Address at Stand In The Sand, May 31st, 2015

Refugio Beach was built from the mountains of Gaviota, its sand washed from Gaviota’s stone by the storm water from the North. The sand is ancient, born under the sea, lifted to the mountains, transported back to the sea.

The meeting ground of the Pacific Ocean and the North American continent is the incredibly small ribbon of sand that we call the beach. If it is 25 yards wide, it disappears from maps. At high tide it is swamped under the ocean surge.

It is an extraordinary meeting place of water and land, beyond compare on our planet. It is a place that is in constant motion, yet known for tranquility. A place so ephemeral that it changes twice a day. A place so dynamic that it transforms from summer sand to hard cobble in winter.

Refugio translates to "refuge" in English. There is irony here, and truth. Situated in the middle of the Gaviota Coast, it is a refuge from all that Southern California has become. It is a refuge for the 1400 plant and animals species inhabiting this space that are threatened by climate change. It is a refuge and sanctuary unique in the world; summer feeding ground for the Blue Whale, and host to a winter bird count almost unrivaled.

This is why we stand in the sand today. Our refuge was assaulted. 

The Gaviota Coast is a unity; its mountains, streams, beach and ocean were all assaulted by our industrial world. The apologists for the oil industry, with their tepid concerns for the pollution, simply sanction the next spill with their acceptance of its inevitability. This is NOT acceptable.  

The speakers today outline the technological solutions available to us to temper, reduce, and someday eliminate our reliance on non-renewable energy sources.

But you can move forward immediately, without cost, and with assurance of success. Our personal antidote, expressed in our daily lives, must be to create a respectful attitude toward our earth that is characterized by restraint: take less, give more – we need to be generous with our mother earth.

Thank you for your presence and commitment; stay connected!


As always, we at Gaviota Coast Conservancy are grateful for your support and dedication. We will continue to report on this disaster, and we encourage you to support the environmental organization of your choice with a donation of time or resources. Click here to donate to GCC's ongoing efforts to protect the Gaviota Coast. (Photos courtesy of Isaac Hernandez). 



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