Though many of the concerns raised over the past year from environmentalists and City of Goleta officials remain unaddressed, the State Lands Commission is preparing to take action on February 21 and most likely approve Venoco Inc.’s plan to re-open an old oil well off of a pier below the fairways of Sandpiper Golf Course. As proposed, the resulting resources would be processed by Venoco’s Ellwood Onshore Facility (EOF), and the adjacent pier would be removed.
While both Venoco and State Lands believe that the well is repressurizing (which could lead to future spills) and that the Carpinteria-based company has a vested right to the oil, critics — including a handful of anti-oil groups represented by the Environmental Defense Center — do not believe those claims have been proven by the project’s final environmental report. Additionally, both the EDC and the City of Goleta asked for the report to analyze processing the oil up the coast at Las Flores Canyon (since the EOF is not supposed to expanded in use), which the report simply concluded would be economically feasible.
If approved on February 21, the City of Goleta then must further analyze whether it would need to issue permits to allow the project to proceed.