Who’s happy that ExxonMobil pulled the plug on plans to replace its aging oil pipelines?
I can tell you who!
The Environmental Defense Center (EDC), for one, and lots of other nonprofit organizations dedicated to Get Oil Out.
Exxon, aka Pacific Pipeline, no longer has plans to put brand new oil pipelines in where lines 901 and 903 still lie. These are the infamous pipelines that helped spill thousands of gallons of crude oil along the Gaviota Coast in 2015.
However, pulling the plug on the plan doesn’t mean there won’t soon be oil swirling through those currently empty pipes.
The pipelines are so badly corroded from the outside that the they ruptured, and Exxon now plans to give them a facelift before asking for the OK to turn the oil back on!
“The company is focused on safely restarting the pipeline and is working with federal and state agencies to progress that process,” Exxon spokesperson Julie King told the Sun.
What’s missing from that statement? The county. Santa Barbara County is missing from that statement. Will the county get to have a say in whether the faucet gets turned back on?
Probably not. Exxon is sick of this county’s shenanigans and moving on to more business-friendly waters thanks to the pushback against its trucking proposal, which was designed to get the oil flowing again; the pushback against a proposal to put technologically advanced safety valves in the pipelines as required by state law, which the county was unable to come to consensus on; and the pushback against the proposal to completely replace the pipelines, which hadn’t really started moving through the permitting process yet.
Whew! I got tired just writing that.
Exxon Venture Manager Andrew Craig wrote a letter to the county, informing it about pulling the pipeline replacement project, calling a simple restart “likely the least environmentally damaging practical alternative.” The word “practical” seems to be the vocabulary to pay attention to.
“There is also a high degree of local permitting and business uncertainty created by recent actions that has impacted investment commitment as well as timing assurances to customers,” Craig wrote.
As in, it’s not practical for Exxon to continue trying to work in good faith with the county. Better to go above it, to another level of government that might be more amenable to its goals. Slow clap for the oil resisters.
“You still are going to have a large spill if you are running oil on a damaged pipeline,” Linda Krop with the EDC said of the fancy valves Exxon wanted.
No kidding! But at least you could shut the pipeline down. Seems like that would have made the most sense, since the new route we seem to be running down doesn’t have new valves nor does it have a new pipeline.
As Exxon is working with the state fire marshal to figure out what it needs to do to flip the oil spigot back on, the EDC is shifting its laser-focused efforts and directing concerns to an agency that it arguably has less influence over than the elected members of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors—who now have zero land use authority or say over what happens next.
It seems as if we’ve gotten ourselves into quite the pickle.
The Canary likes briny pickles, not oily ones. Send some to [email protected].