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Apr 7, 2010 11:30 PM by Monica Quintero

Revised oil drilling agreement drawing controversy

Environmental groups and a Texas oil company (PXP) have struck a deal that would expand oil drilling in Santa Barbara County. They made some changes to a 2008 plan that got side tracked because of concerns the plan was not made public. This time, leaders made the agreement public and gave the state the right to enforce it.

The newest plan would let PXP expand drilling. But it would have to shut down three existing offshore platforms in nine years and a fourth platform in 14-years.

You may recall an incident that dates back to 1969. An oil spill near Santa Barbara dumped 3-million gallons of oil on the south coast. Lois Capps, (D) 23rd District, said, "40 years ago, many of us watched in horror as Santa Barbara's environment and its economy were devastated."

Environmentalists announced the revised plan with PXP at Shoreline Park in Santa Barbara. They said they've been working relentlessly to put an end to new offshore oil development.

Linda Krop, Environmental Defense Center, said, "We have 20 oil platforms currently operating off our coast with no termination dates." Under the plan, about 4,000 acres of coastal area lands will eventually be permanently protected, including about 200 acres along the Gaviota Coast.

Charles Dearborn, California resident, said, "I don't agree with it, I don't agree with it." Dearborn and his wife said there are benefits. They pointed to jobs and the price of gas. Dearborn said, "If they find enough oil, the gas will drop accordingly and that helps everybody."

Capps said, "We already hear calls for endless drilling, calls that only get louder every time the gas prices rise. This despite the fact, that drilling off Santa Barbara's coast would have no effect on gas prices. Here's where environmentalists gave in, the agreement allows PXP to drill up to 30 new shafts from an existing platform.

Late Wednesday afternoon, KSBY News received a call from a spokesperson for Assemblyman Pedro Nava. Nava, a democrat from Santa Barbara, is strongly against the plan.

The spokesperson also said there are around 100 groups who are also opposing the agreement. The agreement also requires PXP to remove two onshore facilities and hundreds of acres of onshore wells. This isn't a done deal it still needs government approval.

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