ExxonMobil is proposing to restart its offshore oil platforms in Gaviota that have been shut down since the 2015 Refugio oil spill and transport the oil via 70 tanker trucks, 24 hours a day along Highway 101.
The cities of Goleta, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo all oppose Exxon’s trucking proposal. Offshore oil is risky anywhere, which is why even Republican-controlled states like Florida oppose it, but California has the largest GDP of any state, and 80 percent of that economic activity is in coastal counties.
With its economic importance, coastal population and marine biodiversity, California is the worst possible place to drill for oil offshore. The 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill off the coast of Louisiana caused $22.7 billion in lost tourism dollars alone. A similar spill in California would cost trillions. This is why new oil leases are prohibited in state waters, and why thousands of businesses and a number of Chambers of Commerce have joined defendthepacific.org to oppose offshore oil leases in federal waters.
The trucking proposal restarts offshore oil from a federal lease and adds the additional risks of trucking. The benefits are paltry compared to the economic and human costs. The oil industry contributes less than one percent of county revenue, even when ExxonMobil was fully operational.
Meanwhile, Exxon’s oil facilities were the largest source in the county of greenhouse gases and major air pollutants linked to lung disease, heart disease, and cancer. And trucks are the least safe way to transport oil, posing an ongoing danger to local roads and drivers. Let’s not replace a broken pipeline with even riskier trucks.