Saturday, August 13, 2022     Volume: 23, Issue: 24

Santa Maria Sun / Letter To The Editor

The following article was posted on September 9th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 28 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 21, Issue 28

The oil industry is being devastated

By Roy Reed, Santa Maria

The mantle of victimhood is never a comfortable one, particularly for the proud employees and families supported by Santa Barbara County’s once-vibrant oil industry. Being oil people, they are all too familiar with the cyclical nature of their industry, most often the result of market fluctuations and the influences of foreign supply, but they have most recently fallen victim to a chain of unforeseen events that have resulted in economic peril and disruption for more than 500 of our friends and neighbors and their families.

This series of blows began in May 2015 when the rupture of the Plains All American pipeline idled Exxon’s Santa Ynez Unit, eliminating the jobs of several hundred employees and contractors, and continued with 2020’s COVID-19 induced market decline, which decimated much of the local oil industry as the oil price collapse led to shut-ins and layoffs. 

And now, finally, just as their industry has begun a slow recovery, they’re hit with the news that Phillips 66 will be closing the Santa Maria Refinery and the 300 pipeline, the market access point for much of Santa Barbara County’s produced crude. The Phillips announcement of its conversion of its Rodeo Refinery to biofuel production and the closures of its Santa Maria Refinery and the 300 pipeline hit our local industry like an asteroid strike just as it was beginning a slow recovery from its most recent hit.

While local industry officials currently ponder alternatives and local families look hopefully toward the future, they are faced with the reality that their industry—foundational to the economic standing of present-day California and, certainly, Santa Barbara County—has been subject to unrelenting attacks by local environmental and activist groups, and their Grand Inquisitor, the Environmental Defense Center, for decades. While the local oil industry and their employees have provided great support for the local economy, tax base, and community, the opposition has contributed nothing, preferring to reserve their actions to eliminating jobs that support local families and working to prevent the creation of new ones.

While the Environmental Defense Center, as indicated in its latest press release, celebrates the devastation of our local industry, families, and neighbors, and now hopes to exacerbate the industry’s misfortunes by crushing Exxon’s proposed trucking plan and killing Plains All American’s pipeline restoration proposal, the single voice of sanity in the local media, the only voice that calls the EDC to task for its actions, is the Canary (“Bye, bye energy,” Aug. 20). Our thanks to the Canary for standing as a shining example of objectivity and insight, and to the Sun for printing it.

Roy Reed
Santa Maria

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