Tranquillon Ridge Project Returns

Governor’s Revised Budget Brings Back Controversial Offshore Oil Project

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s latest revised budget proposal calls for the resurrection of a controversial deal to allow offshore drilling at Tranquillon Ridge, off the coast from Vandenberg Air Force base.

Under terms of the deal, which set off a bitter battle between local environmentalists, the state would receive $100 million in short-term revenue from oil royalties and about $1.8 billion over the next 14 years. Schwarzenegger’s move was first reported by Sacramento journalist Greg Lucas, who blogs at California’s Capitol.

With the state facing a deficit of $15 to $21 billion for next fiscal year, depending on the outcome of next week’s special election, the governor’s revised budget proposal include $100 million in short-term new revenue the state would have received in the deal, had it not been voted down by the State Lands Commission in January, and $1.8 billion over the next 14 years.

The vote against the deal divided local environmentalists, with most anti-drilling groups supporting the proposal to expand drilling rights at Tranquillon for Plains Exploration & Production (PXP). In exchange, the company offered a mandatory shutdown date of 2022, thousands of acres of permanently protected onshore lands, approximately $350 million of tax revenue for Santa Barbara, and money for the state.

Among the few environmentalists opposing the deal was longtime coast advocate Susan Jordan, and her husband, Assemblyman Pedro Nava. Jordan is now seeking the Democratic nomination for the seat, being vacated by Nava. She is opposed by city councilman Das Williams, who said he got into the race largely because of Jordan’s position on the issue.

The report about the deal came as Schwarzenegger released two budget plans, one for if his package of budget initiatives pass next week and one if they don’t.

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