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Environmental Activists Denounce Greenwashing of Offshore Oil Drilling Plan for CA Coast
by EF!
Wednesday Feb 17th, 2010 9:11 AM
Santa Barbara, CA, Monday, February 15 - Earth First! activists from around the country converged today at the PXP petroleum processing plant on the Gaviota Coast and the headquarters of Environmental Defense Center, a large and influential environmental nonprofit agency, in Santa Barbara to expose corporate greenwashing and confront key actors in offshore drilling. The activists began by rallying outside the processing plant, , moving later to the headquarters of Environmental Defense Center, who they accuse of collaborating with PXP to expand drilling off the California coast. At 4:30 that afternoon the activists gathered at Paseo Nuevo Shopping Center, at 651 Paseo Nuevo, to raise public awareness of offshore drilling.
The activists had come from a national strategy session in the mountains above Santa Barbara. PXP has paid Environmental Defense Center to lobby on behalf of PXP’s bid to slant drill on Tranquillion Ridge. In return, PXP has promised to close 3 existing oil rigs, Hidalgo, Hermosa, and Harvest, in 9 years, at which time they will also shut down the Gaviota Processing plant.

If approved PXP's project would be the first new oil drilling in California's state coastal waters in 40 years.

The platforms that PXP has pledged to shut down are already running dry; the Gaviota plant itself is already partially abandoned. None of PXP’s supposed concessions actually force anything onto the company that they would not have done anyway. The agreement itself was opposed by many environmental organizations and policy makers rejected it several times last year because it lacked clear enforceability. EDC’s acceptance of PXP money, and lobbying on behalf of oil drilling, violated the trust that the public has long placed in them and has created enormous dissent among environmentalist.

Earth First! activists call on EDC to reclaim its position as a trusted environmental organization and reject attempts to greenwash oil drilling. “EDC has called this ‘an unprecedented agreement to end oil drilling.’ Doners and members of this organization should be aware that this agreement actually transforms EDC into a mouthpiece for industrial oil extraction” said Emily Sanders, a local activist.

The fight against new offshore drilling was joined by activists from South Florida who have been fighting coastal drilling in their state. This weekend groups in Florida gathered together in a state wide protest against the removal of a ban on offshore drilling along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Groups including the Sierra Club, Surfrider, the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition, and the Florida Audubon Society have opposed new drilling. According to Florida activist Russ McSpadden from Everglades Earth First! "We are here to join the growing coast to coast movement against new fossil fuel oil extraction."

Attached below is a rebuttal to the EDC/PXP plan's claims:


Big Mistake

The Environmental Defense Center's Agreement With PXP Will Neither "End" Offshore Oil Drilling, Nor Benefit Our Communities and Coastal Environment

Environmentalist should fight against oil companies to end all oil drilling, not strike complex business deals with them.

Earth First! Santa Barbara - efinsb [at]

In 2008 the Environmental Defense Center (EDC) and its clients reached a controversial agreement with the Plains Exploration and Production Company of Houston, Texas (PXP). EDC claims the deal would "put an end to existing oil drilling off the California coast." The deal would in fact open up state waters to oil extraction by allowing PXP to slant drill from its Platform Irene, and pump 90 million barrels of oil and billions of cubic feet of gas from the "Tranquillon Ridge," just offshore of the Point of Conception. To obtain this deal PXP agreed to a host of "environmental" demands proposed by EDC. At first glance the agreement between PXP and EDC appears reasonable. However, the devil is in the details.

1. The deal would require PXP to shut down three existing oil drilling platforms (Hidalgo, Harvest, and Hermosa), as well as the related onshore processing facility located in Gaviota.

The problems with this aspect of the agreement are several. First of all these platforms would not be decommissioned until 9 years after PXP is granted permission to drill into Tranquillon from Platform Irene. EDC touts the fact that these platforms have no closure date, therefore the deal removes otherwise indefinitely existing infrastructure. This is an illusory claim. The fact is that these three platforms have largely served their purpose for PXP and previous owners, and are becoming economically obsolete in the corporation's eyes. There is little accessible oil left beneath or immediately around them in the Point Arguello Unit. In other words, PXP will want to decommission these facilities anyway. The same can be said for PXP's Gaviota processing facility which handles oil from these platforms: indeed much of the Gaviota facility is already abandoned because it handles far less oil than it once did. Peak production was reached in the mid-1990s. So the centerpiece of this trade is largely a case of PXP getting something for nothing.

2. The deal would require PXP to cease drilling from Platform Irene by 2022, and to decommission both the platform and Lompoc facility where its oil and gas are processed.

Setting a concrete end date for PXP drilling into state waters is a step above federal oil lease agreements, but we're still talking about allowing a corporation to drill into state waters. The end date is carefully calculated by PXP to ensure again that virtually all of the extractable oil and gas in Tranquillon's state range will be exhaustively exploited. Like the three platforms PXP is offering to shutter as part of this deal, the company will likely want to close down the Irene operations by 2022 if allowed to drill into Tranquillon. Thus the end date really obtains no concession from PXP; it merely pretends that the logical business operations of an oil company —hit and run when the reserves are tapped out— are somehow environmental "wins."

3. Under the proposed deal, approximately 4,000 acres of coastal area lands will be conveyed to the public, including the lands containing the onshore oil wells and processing facilities.

This should happen anyway. We should not have to allow oil corporations to further exploit our coastline and state lands in order to remediate the lands they have previously built on and spilled toxics into. Another issue of concern related to this conveyance of land, particularly the acreage around Lompoc, relates to PXP's plans for building residential subdivisions. The company has a history of proposing land swaps to state and local governments in order to gain permission to build on undeveloped lands.1 PXP has a real estate consulting agreement with Cook Hill Properties dating back to 2006. According to the agreement Cook Hill Properties "will be responsible for creating a development plan and obtaining all necessary permits for real estate development in an environmentally responsible manner on the surface estates of PXP's holdings at its Montebello property in Los Angeles County, Lompoc in Santa Barbara County and Arroyo Grande in San Luis Obispo County."2 It is unclear if PXP's proposed Lompoc development (1300 homes on 800 acres) is still in the works, and if so how it plays into the company's agreement with EDC to hand over other portions of its landholdings around Lompoc. Parklands adjacent to housing developments serves to inflate land values and generates profits. This is part of PXP's corporate landholding strategy, not an environmental concession the company is making.

4. EDC's deal with PXP requires that the company will mitigate all direct greenhouse gas emissions related to the Tranquillon project, and that the company will donate $1.5 million to the county also for GHG reductions.

This sounds nice but seems rather absurd given the entire point of the Tranquillon Ridge project: to extract 90 million barrels of oil and 50 billion cubic feet of gas which will be refined and burned and therefore emitted into the atmosphere, causing massive GHG emissions.3 The only way to truly make the Tranquillon project environmentally friendly with respect to CO2 emissions is to simply leave the oil and gas in the ground.
§Gaviota Plant
by EF! Wednesday Feb 17th, 2010 9:11 AM
Owned by PXP, the Gaviota Oil Heating Facility is to be closed down in the deal. Upon visiting the site, however, people noted that it is already much abandoned and unused.
§No Greenwashing
by EF! Wednesday Feb 17th, 2010 9:11 AM

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