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Posted on June 4 at 4:07 p.m.
While Mr. Das Williams may have a history of opposing oil and gas development off our coast, his support for the PXP deal with the Environmental Defense Center had the political effect of potentially extending offshore drilling as opposed to ending it. If it wasn't for the opposition of the deal by Susan Jordan and decisions by the State Lands Commission, we would have to suffer the risks of allowing the first offshore drilling lease off our coast in 41 years in a time when alternatives to oil are imperative and unavoidable.
Platform Irene and the Point Arguello field have been shown in environmental documents to have a useable life extending only a few years beyond the "end date" proposed by PXP-EDC. This offered in exchange for the right to drill up to 30 new wells in the State Coastal Tidelands Sanctuary. I would rather wait out the useful life of the existing platforms rather than allowing PXP to extend their greedy slant-drilling machinery into state waters within a few miles of the coast.
Beyond that, the inherent loopholes make the deal unenforceable according to the State Lands Commission staff as recently as last month. It remains a fact that two private parties cannot bind federal and state agencies in the future to shut down processing plants and oil rigs.
Mr. Williams and the other local groups who supported the deal only gave the "drill-baby-drill" crowd ammunition that environmentalists support new drilling. Now that Mr. Williams is chastened by an out-of-control catastrophe in the gulf, he does not want his support for the project to be mentioned. The harsh reality we all must face: increase the throughput into the Platform Irene facilities, and another catastrophe off our coast becomes much more likely.
Susan Jordan for Assembly.
Jack EidtWild Heritage Planners
On Das and Anti-Das
Posted on May 28 at 12:18 p.m.
Das Williams vehemently supported extending offshore drilling (up to 30 new wells bored into the state coastal tidelands sanctuary) with the hope that four platforms and two processing facilities would be shut down within 14 years. During this 14 year period, the risk of a blowout or spill is increased significantly by multiplying the throughput of oil and gas through antiquated facilities, which Susan Jordan has carefully pointed out to educate voters.
In January 2009, the secret plan between PXP and EDC-et-al was shown as full of enforcement loopholes and set a precedent for the first new lease offered in 40 years. The State Lands Commission (SLC) does not approve oil leases based on hopes and dreams; they weighed the facts and rejected the deal because two private parties cannot bind the state or federal government agencies to ensure future compliance.
Since then, Mr. Williams and EDC have been used by the "drill-baby-drillers" to show "environmental support" for extending offshore drilling in California. Susan Jordan was a leading voice for a coalition of over 100 environmental, non-governmental, and community organizations to defeat this project when Governor Schwarzenegger tried overthrow the SLC and push it through the legislature twice (rejected).
The PXP project is now dead in the water for a reason: you can't stop voracious oil companies based on hope. Just like hoping that BP's promises to save the Gulf Coast from an absolute cataclysmic destruction will not change the horrid fate for wetlands, wildlife, fisheries, tourism -- the whole economy: destroyed. And this constant lobbying on behalf of the PXP project shows that Williams and company just can't admit their idea didn't pan out. Let's hope the voters will remind them in June and advance Susan Jordan to the general election.
Jack EidtWild Heritage Planners
On Campaign Mailer Lies
Posted on May 13 at 4:39 p.m.
Susan Jordan 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 Santa Barbara 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 cannot see that.
Very surprised that no mention is made about Mr. Williams's very WRONG move in supporting allowing the first offshore drilling lease in 41 years after the four-times-rejected deal to shut down platforms was shown unenforceable. No mention about his cynical political maneuvering and support for undercutting the authority of the State Lands Commission, and his joining with Governor Schwarzenegger in holding state park funding hostage to oil drilling.
Sorry, but Mr. Williams is the wrong candidate when it comes to principles and doing what is right for the region and state. Just bring up PXP, go ahead, Mr. Williams, try and tell us that we should make deals with oil companies, that we should bet the health of our coastal economies and ecosystems in exchange for a a few dollars and some land donations. But the EDC crowd has not shown that they can bind either the federal or state government to adhere to closing down platforms. WRONG move, Mr. Williams.
Sadly, the lock-step mind-meld that forced everyone in the SB environmental community to support the PXP-EDC deal despite the obvious shortcomings and ugly politics involved is also shown in the Indy editorial staff. 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.
They may offer you riches, but do you know what they truly cost?
On 35th State Assembly District: Das Williams
Posted on March 15 at 11:08 a.m.
Thank you, Georgy for your thoughtful comments. Unfortunately, I see this as not being about solely enforcing a local agreement regarding four drilling platforms. I agree with Dr. Norman Saunders, pioneer in the environmental movement in SB, about the terrible precedent this deal creates where environmental opposition can be bought by an oil company. And the political impact inherent in showing that California is open to new drilling. While locally some benefits might be collected, Santa Barbarans must understand the unfortunate statewide and national implications of this deal.
And for the record, as an urban planner I work to create alternatives that protect wilderness land and coastal resources while granting that some development might be difficult to stop and could be re-envisioned with sustainability in mind. Alternative plans we have put forward for large scale land development have never been accepted by any developer, but are used by citizens and government to understand how to rethink suburban sprawl. Deals have been negotiated by others using our ideas. I have never been renumerated by a developer while representing environmental concerns and spend my time here because of my dedication to protecting our oceans from being used as political chits to balance the budget or to enrich an oil company.
On Say Never
Posted on March 5 at 12:52 a.m.
Good idea: to end offshore drilling.
Method: allow more drilling (first in 41 years on submerged lands where it is legally prohibited), get them to agree to end dates, receive compensation in direct payment, tax revenue, and land.
Oversight: End dates are not deemed enforceable because of federal statute governing drilling leases. Plus the main signee to the deal does not control the land being donated nor the rigs and processing facilities to be shuttered. Hence four public rejections.Not fear. Political and economic calculation.
Complication: Moratoria prohibiting federal OCS offshore drilling is rolled back (for now); pressure to drill more here, there, almost everywhere becomes significant. Deal becomes political football that uses the environmentalist signees as a tool to secure more political leverage for more drilling leases in exchange for funding governmental services, parks, eduction, etc. Offshore drilling is extended (federal and state), not ended.
My Own Conclusion: Just Say No.
One Solution: Oil Companies should pay their fair share of taxes like they do in all other oil producing states (TX, FL, AK). Oil Severence Tax must be approved for existing drilling in the state to contribute to the General Fund.
Drilling more will not help us achieve energy independence nor will it ensure long-term energy needs. It will not affect natural seeps. But it can provide some tax revenues.
Renewable energy sources and technologies harnessing them are priced out of the market because oil and gas keep flowing through leaky pipelines, burned as soot and smoke, creating a carbon ring around our heated world. Why should we sacrifice our coasts for this poisonous addiction?
Posted on March 2 at 9:16 p.m.
Dear Mr. Landecker, Mr. Powell and Mr. Dunn:
With all due respect for your century of fighting offshore drilling, when are you going to recognize that you are a very powerful pawn for Big Oil regardless of the purported but clearly unproven benefits from this deal?
No mention how the Governor is using this plan as extortion to get State Parks financed?
No mention of Chuck DeVore's bill (R-Irvine) that would open the entire state coastal sanctuary to offshore drilling for just this type of "historic, one-time" deal, and would take oversight away the State Lands Commission because they obviously refuse to listen to your "facts?"
We can discuss the (de)merits of the Tranquillon Ridge proposal, but in reality, this is not only about four platforms and some land donations. This is about creating a politico-business model for opening the coasts to MORE OIL AND GAS DRILLING in the state sanctuary and the federal Outer-Continental Shelf by renumerating organizations such as yourselves to stump for them, as well as supplying revenues to governmental entities for political cover.
GOO understands a thing or two about oil spills and the damage from drilling muds and pipelines -- how about the increased risk of pollution and blowouts? Will PXP pay for that as part of this landmark deal? Spills happen on high-technology rigs as those on the Kimberley Coast of West Australia can attest.
In your own vacuum, I clearly see that you are principled actors. It is not greenwashing to get end dates for existing platforms and land donations of parcels with significant biological and economic merit. But, PXP does not control aforementioned lands, and only one of the platforms. And PXP does not control the flow of oil, nor the politico-economic outlook on the need for more oil and gas drilling at a future date. The federal Minerals Management Service has stated they are statutorily bound to extract every drop of oil from the lease, and deals between an oil company and their local representatives are not binding.
For this reason, this proposal was rejected twice by the State Lands Commission and twice by the legislature.
I see that you are hoping Governor Schwarzenegger's man in Santa Maria will be appointed to the SLC so you can slip this one past. But maybe true environmentalists such as yourselves should consider the wider implications, and the underhanded way you are being used.
We need to say NO today to Big Oil, NO tomorrow, and NO the next day. The fossil fuel supply must be shut down to make renewable alternative politically and economically feasible. The only end dates of existing leases are the value of the resource. We can outlast them. And along with the 100 statewide groups opposing this move, we will outlast you. Unless you want to join us, because in the end, we all want the same thing.
On PXP and EDC: A Grand Plan
Posted on February 25 at 10:25 p.m.
When are EDC et al going to admit their well-intentioned gambit to end offshore drilling has created a politico-business model of paying government and special interest groups to open up the entire coast to MORE DRILLING, in the state sanctuary and the Outer-Continental Shelf?
In 2008, there was a moratorium against all drilling, so the basics of this deal seemed (well, sort of) sound...a one-time exception that would actually end drilling on specific dates. Now with threats for more drilling in the OCS off Santa Maria, Oceanside and Mendocino, and further push for repealing the state sanctuary drilling ban to finance our ailing state budget (the DeVore bill, plus others)...this deal is turning into a serious blow to coastal protection not just for Santa Barbara but for the entire country.
For good reason, State Lands denied the gambit, because the end dates are legally unenforceable, the lands slated for donation are not guaranteed, only one of four platforms are controlled by PXP, and the risk of spills and blowouts are very real, as the almost-three-month blowout off the coast of Australia last year proved.
Here's a suggestion, EDC-GOO-CPA: Go back to your earlier model: NO NEW DRILLING. NOT HERE, NOT NOW. NEVER.
Political and economic capital must be invested TODAY in renewable resources and technologies, as well as stopping the fossil-fueled urban sprawl still threatening much of our wilderness land. By opening Pandora's box to offshore drilling, we continue to risk our coasts for a commodity that pollutes at every phase of extraction, production and consumption, fouling our climate as well. For this reason, Assemblyman Nava and future Assemblywoman Jordan are holding the line to protect our coasts.
Time to admit it was an okay plan gone WRONG; you've collected your fees, fine, and lets move on...together (with the over 100 groups who are fighting this T-Ridge Proposal).
Posted on January 21 at 8:58 p.m.
Let us look at the facts and ignore the paid lobbyist contractually obligated to stump for PXP (and her own organization's financial gain) for a second.
PXP, if given the first offshore oil lease in 40 years, claim they will let it expire in 2022 and will somehow get the three other Pt Arguello platforms they don't control to close down too. Their adherents claim that the federal MMS overseeing the leaseholds, as part of the Code of Federal Regulations, allows that if a leaseholder wishes, they can end drilling. However, to do this they must pay the federal government for the value of the unharvested resource -- a number that is unknowable at this juncture. Please tell us that this deal can compel PXP to pay this undetermined figure? Show me the language, please.
The above-mentioned paid lobbyist firm on Garden Street have claimed the contract with PXP is enforceable. Yet, remember, it is between private parties and is not binding on MMS or the State. Say PXP has second thoughts. Imagine that oil might be worth double what it is today. Enforcement would require a breach of contract lawsuit by EDC which is unlikely to result in the courts ordering PXP to stop drilling, particularly if the State allows them to continue. Does anyone believe that if the State has been receiving funds for 14 years they will not allow the drilling to continue?
The TRUTH that is spoken by the above-mentioned lobbyist is that they await the possibility of revisiting the State Lands Commission with a more-oil-compromised stand-in for now Congressmember Garamendi. Hoping the future Lieutenant Governor will not be so interested in the details.
A competent lobbying position, but please, enough with the spirit of saving the world... No new drilling and no EDC-PXP-trust-us-deals...!
Um, ps, I am not paid to be here by anyone but myself!
On Oil & Secrecy
Posted on January 14 at 12:58 p.m.
Governor Schwarzenegger’s cynical move to hold state parks funding hostage to an overthrow (or shifted balance of) the power of the State Lands Commission to open Tranquillon Ridge (and later the entire CA coast) to offshore drilling is wrong-headed on many fronts. Balancing the budget is a revenue-based solution, not to be done at the expense of our coasts and parks.
First, we need to levy fair share fees on ongoing oil extraction in our state — Assemblyman Pedro Nava’s Oil Severance Tax, that would fund the systems that keep the trains running on time, kids having books to read, keeping college students away from loan-sharks, and protecting our neighborhoods from crime and disaster. Texas, Florida, and Alaska levy this fee in exchange for dealing with the significant external costs of public resource extraction and their oil industry seems to operate just fine. Without government, without governmental revenue, our society will become a Third World disaster.
Second, we need to protect our coasts from destructive Carbon Age overtures, feeding our addiction to oil, polluting the skies, and fouling our climate. As the State Lands Commission (SLC) and the legislature voted this PXP-EDC gambit down twice, the facts haven't changed. You cannot end oil drilling by opening up the coast to more drilling. Federal authorities have the last say, not a backroom deal between an oil company and a few lawyers with good intentions gone seriously bad. Reference Assemblyman Chuck DeVore's proposal to do away with State Coastal Sanctuary Act and the SLC all in the name of selling our coasts to Big Oil. We can thank EDC for creating that skewed business model.
Schwarzenegger’s plan would bring sunbathers, surfers, luxury hotels, sunset diners, fragile wetland and tidal habitats, and already-stressed fisheries within three miles of oil spills, blowouts, toxic drilling muds, pipelines, erosion, and rig air pollution. Ask residents of the Kimberley Coast of West Australia what they think about their three-month-long high-technology-blowout last year.
Political and financial capital must be invested in renewable alternatives now to protect our climate and sustainability, as well as achieving that theoretical “energy independence.”
Say no to Mr. Schwarzenegger’s throwing our parks and coasts into the hands of Big Oil!
On Oil vs. Parks
Posted on January 8 at 2:55 p.m.
This deal is proving to be a nightmare for California, in a state where we need to be investing political and financial capital in non-greenhouse-gas-producing renewable sources of energy and conservation. PXP-EDC, rather than end offshore drilling, is the first attempt to completely repeal the California Coastal Sanctuary Act, overthrow the regulatory power of the State Lands Commission, as well as provide a pay-to-play business model for opening up the federal outer-continental shelf to massive drilling from Mendocino all the way to San Diego.
The ugly road to polluted beaches and a haywire climate is definitely paved with good intentions. EDC-GOO have created a Frankenstein monster and are being used basically as consultants for a scheme to open up our coasts and continue this insane addiction to fossil fuels.
The deal is legally unenforceable, not according to Assemblyman Nava and now Congressmember Garamendi, but the federal Minerals Management Service who said in the hearing a year ago: "We don't like end dates." Translates, they are statutorily required to extract every drop of oil and gas from leases, despite a secret deal between a couple of groups and a Houston oil company that only controls one of four platforms, and cannot guarantee title to the promised lands.
Susan Jordan continues to fight for a sensible alternative to this corrupt political coup d'etat over our environmental safguards...uphold the power of the State Lands Commission, reinstate the ban on federal OCS drilling, and fix the budget with an Oil Severence Tax.
Taxes from oil drilling should definitely be used to compensate our state for the extraction, pipelining, refining and burning of a public resource -- Assemblyman Nava's Oil Extraction Tax. If it works in Texas, Alaska, and Florida, it should be indispensible here.
On Oil & Money