Oil company PXP can drill. Despite hesitation from most board members at their 10/7 meeting, Santa Barbara County supervisors denied an appeal that would’ve stopped the company from drilling on the Tranquillon Ridge offshore from Lompoc. With Joni Gray dissenting, the other supervisors were enamored with the money that the cash-strapped county and state would receive from the project-roughly $313 million and $2 billion over 14 years, respectively. Even Sheriff Bill Brown implored the supervisors to approve the project because of the county’s need for money. A backroom deal between the oil company and environmental leaders means that PXP can drill for 14 years before closing Tranquillon Ridge, Platform Irene, and its onshore oil plant in Lompoc. The company anticipates being able to suck 100 million barrels of oil from beneath the ocean-about one-third of what is estimated to exist in that location-during that time, using carbon-neutral technology that also was attractive to the supervisors. The appeals came from oil companies that opposed the deal. With the economic and environmental benefit to the county, 3rd District Supervisor Brooks Firestone called the situation “not perfect” but a “moment of history.”


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