The draft Environmental Impact Report for the Tranquillion Ridge oil and gas development project – released this week – validates opponents’ longtime concerns by identifying several “significant and unavoidable” impacts. According to the document, the plan, which calls for the slant drilling of 22 to 30 new oil and gas wells in the waters off Vandenberg Air Force Base, would not only greatly increase the risk of oil spills in the immediate region, but would also extend the leases of Platform Irene by 30 years and the Point Pedernales facility by 15 years, thereby increasing the chance of spillage at those facilities as well. Additionally, the document identified marine life, ocean water quality, commercial and recreational fishing, onshore water resources, and terrestrial and freshwater biology as areas that would be endangered by the project.

If you have driven to Santa Barbara from the south via Highway 101 or gone to a Montecito beach in the past week, you’ve likely seen one of the world’s largest and most impressive luxury yachts happily anchored just off Miramar Beach. The massive 230-foot vessel – owned by local philanthropists Peter and Stephanie Sperling – sailed into local waters around sunset last Friday and has been wowing beachgoers and commuters ever since. Normally docked on the East Coast, the Reverie comes equipped with a helipad, elevator, seven decks, wet bar, swimming pool, and just about every other luxurious accoutrement imaginable.

Vandenberg Air Force Base successfully launched a satellite-carrying rocket into the atmosphere last Saturday. The satellite, made by Lockheed Martin, will be used for global weather forecasting by the military.

An 18-year-old Santa Maria man has filed suit against Unocal and a number of other oil companies alleging that he developed cancer as a result of toxic pollution related to oil drilling at the site of his home in the Santa Maria Sunrise Hills. According to his attorney, plaintiff Scott Chenoweth was unaware until recently that he has been living at the site of a former oil field. The suit accuses the oil companies involved in drilling at the location of failing to warn him – or other residents of the Sunrise Hills developments – that living there could expose them to dangerous carcinogens.

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