Green Light Given to Drill at Vandenberg

Sunset Exploration and ExxonMobil Happy, Enviros and Capps Not

Thursday, May 22, 2014
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A highly anticipated assessment that clears the way for slant drilling from Vandenberg Air Force Base was released last week. Several years ago, plans to drill on the base were all but extinct after base commanders said such projects could interfere with base operations and compromise military missions. But the possibility of drilling was reopened last fall when Vandenberg announced the Air Force Civil Engineer Center would conduct a study to determine if the positives (economic) outweighed the negatives (environmental risk). The two-page executive summary gives the green light for slant drilling, though key details remain hazy.

The person happiest with the preliminary findings is probably Sunset Exploration founder Robert Nunn, who, in partnership with ExxonMobil, has pushed to tap the offshore Tranquillon Ridge field for almost a decade. Though Sunset Exploration still has to beat out competitors in a bidding contest, the company undoubtedly has a huge head start. “It’s an exciting development,” Nunn said, adding that extended-reach drilling ​— ​in which “land-based” rigs drill vertically and then horizontally to reach oil reservoirs ​— ​leaves environmental habitats unharmed and has been safely used for decades in California.

Not so, say Santa Barbara environmentalists who were frustrated with the results. “We would hope for a little more transparency,” said Environmental Defense Center attorney Linda Krop. Krop argued the public has been “left in the dark,” and this brief summary lacks specifics such as the locations ​— ​and number ​— ​of the drilling sites. Further, Vandenberg is largely undeveloped and “one of the most important environmental areas on the planet,” affirmed Krop.

Also seriously concerned with the release is Congressmember Lois Capps, who has long opposed new offshore drilling projects. “While I have not yet reviewed the report in detail, it is clear that the Air Force’s Opportunity Assessment released today opens the door to new drilling along our coast,” Capps said in a statement. “I will continue to follow this closely and actively engage the Air Force to highlight these concerns and ensure that input from local stakeholders is properly and fully considered throughout this process.”


Independent Discussion Guidelines

VAFB for years condemned the idea of mixing missile launches and oil drilling. They now changed their minds? Ok, why?

Hemlockroid (anonymous profile)
May 22, 2014 at 8:52 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This is bad.

chilldrinfthenight (anonymous profile)
May 22, 2014 at 11:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This is good!

GandG (anonymous profile)
May 22, 2014 at 11:27 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The oil under the ground belongs to every American ... So like they do in Australia, we Americans should get a bigger piece of the action. IE seventy percent of the oil revenue needs to be paid to the citizens of the country! The opportunity assessment is that Military speak for cash kickbacks to the mucky mucks?

GEO (anonymous profile)
May 23, 2014 at 3:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Vandenberg is a military base. They have enormous leeway to do whatever they want that is consistent with being a military base.

Drilling for oil is not what military bases do unless necessity dictates.

There is no necessity in this case.

So it looks incredibly corrupt to mix military with private business like this. So corrupt that one wonders if Vandenberg should be invited to leave their location.

sevendolphins (anonymous profile)
May 26, 2014 at 1:05 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I dobtbt the brain power of a mere 7 dolphins vs 14.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
May 26, 2014 at 1:37 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Our dolphinpod is undecided on this matter.

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
May 26, 2014 at 3:27 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Mr. Volok, I would admonish you to NOT attempt to turn one pod of dolphins against another, stay out of this. Unlike you humans, we have our own dolphin council, and resolve things peacefully.

7+14=21 dolphins.

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
May 26, 2014 at 8:08 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The eco-activists (every one of them) use their share of oil. Yet they righteously seek to deny its benefits to everyone else.

Ms Capp and Krop need to set an example here. They need to have their (several) luxury cars crushed, and start riding a bicycle to work.

nuffalready (anonymous profile)
June 9, 2014 at 12:26 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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