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Oil Here, Oil There


After the Gulf of Mexico tragedy taught the whole world the danger of off-shore oil drilling, one would expect The Independent to endorse the assembly candidate who has consistently opposed off-shore drilling, Susan Jordan. Das Williams said he entered the race specifically because of his support of the PXP plan to drill off the coast near Lompoc, which is fiercely opposed by Jordan. California’s Republican Governor has fought to grant the leases, but now he no longer supports it. Das Williams still supports it. Is the oil company supporting Das’s campaign?

Jordan is backed by Sierra Club, California Federation of Teachers, and numerous others.

She founded the California Coastal Protection network, has many awards for successful fights against the governor, unscrupulous real estate developers, and oil and gas companies.

She led the fight with the Sierra Club against the Billiton effort for a natural gas terminal off the Oxnard and Ventura coast. The Coastal Commission spent two days hearing the public. Several hundred attended. I joined those who spoke against it. I don’t recall seeing or hearing Das Williams.

Susan’s career: woman’s health advocate, director of a non profit organization, knows how to manage a business, meet a payroll, create jobs, and raise a family.

Susan focuses on helping people and protecting the environment. Das focuses on furthering his career. By the way, I’m not anti-Das; I voted for him when he ran for supervisor. I’m just disappointed. —Dorothy McNeil

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Susan Jordan, running for the Democratic nomination for the 35th State Assembly District, has shown herself a principled leader for Santa Barbara, not just regarding her years of statewide work in protecting our coasts from outsized development, but her efforts to make the area a better place to live and do business. She will stop at nothing in adhering to her vision of a sustainable environment and economy, and it is unfortunate the Independent decided to endorse her opponent.

Santa Barbara City Councilman Das Williams made the very wrong move in supporting the first offshore drilling lease in 41 years after the four-times-rejected deal with Plains Exploration and Petroleum (PXP) to shut down platforms was shown to be unenforceable. Ms. Jordan broke with members of the Santa Barbara environmental community to fight the deal that would allow 30 new slant-drilled wells within three miles of the coast, increasing the throughput of oil and gas to rickety platforms and leaky pipeline infrastructure. Mr. Williams jumped in the race supporting the loophole-ridden, then-secret, later-rejected deal. Then Mr. Williams supported undercutting the authority of the State Lands Commission to push the deal through the legislature (failed), and then cynically joined with Governor Schwarzenegger in holding state park funding hostage to oil drilling (failed again).

Mr. Williams believes that we should bet the health of our coastal economies and ecosystems in exchange for assurances from an oil company that they will do the right thing. But the EDC crowd has not shown they can bind either the federal or state government to adhere to closing down platforms. Wrong move, Mr. Williams.

I am sure Mr. Williams has some good points, but we hope next time when dealing with statewide issues he might be able to employ a more critical eye. Susan Jordan backs the legacy of our 1969 oil disaster, a moratorium on new leases, and investment today in a post-fossil-fuel economy. She deserves a job in Sacramento representing Santa Barbara in the Assembly.—Jack Eidt, Los Angeles (director, Wild Heritage Planners)

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If there is any good to come of the Gulf spill, it’s the reawakened fear of the dangers of oil drilling. But it also means a lost chance to reduce our risk of another spill like 1969’s.

The Tranquillon Ridge agreement would have allowed slightly more drilling by oil company PXP, which is already drilling an adjacent federal lease. In exchange, PXP would have been contractually obligated to stop drilling at four platforms in nine to 14 years; remove the platforms and onshore processing facilities; donate 3,900 acres of land; and give $1.5 million for clean energy transit. Without T-Ridge, there is no way to get PXP out. Instead, with each passing year they drill, as equipment ages, the risk of another accident increases.

If we have to lose T-Ridge, let’s prevent a new environmental disaster and defeat Measure J in Carpinteria.

Measure J would permit a huge slant-drilling rig next to Carpinteria City Hall. The project is so environmentally toxic that the City was likely to deny it, so now Venoco is bypassing the City with a ballot measure. To persuade Carpinterians that a bad idea is good, they are promising lots of money.

But the money may never come. It depends on Venoco turning a profit, which isn’t certain. It’s unlikely that any of the revenue would get to the City, given the arcane laws involved, and if it did, it could only be used for coastally related services. Further, Measure J allows Venoco to unilaterally change the terms of the agreement. That’s like buying a house only to find out afterwards that the seller can say, “Oh, instead of that new four-bedroom Craftsman, you’re getting a run-down studio. ”

If we can’t currently say yes to the Tranquillon Ridge project, let’s help Carpinterians say no on Measure J. —Lee Heller



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