By John Wilkens, Daily Nexus, February 2, 1977
Exxon Corporation’s construction of offshore oil facilities in the Santa Barbara Channel is proceeding “full speed” despite efforts by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors to suspend the permit.
“It would be difficult for us not to proceed with the plans, which are under federal jurisdiction, just because of a County decision by three or four people,” said D.I. Bolding, Exxon public relations manager, referring to a letter sent by Supervisors asking Secretary of the Interior Cecil Andrus to suspend the Exxon permit.
The Supervisors are trying to force Exxon to utilize an onshore pipeline instead of the offshore facility presently under construction. They feel that the reduction in pollution and possible oil spills will make the pipeline more economically sound, and they hope that the suspension will be approved before Exxon gets a “vested interest” in the project.
Bolding, however, says that constraints placed by the State Coastal Commission on an earlier pipeline proposal forced Exxon to proceed with the offshore plans.
“We offered to spend $20,000 on Environmental Impact Studies, and $300,000 on Engineering Studies to look at the feasibility of a pipeline from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles,” explained Bolding. “We offered to spend $40 million in building the pipeline, which is as much as we have in oil out there,” he added, “but the Coastal Commission said no, that they wanted an open checkbook to build the pipeline.”
“Since the permit from the Department of the Interior allowed a facility onshore or offshore, we had to go offshore,” Bolding remarked.
Bolding sees earlier efforts by former County Supervisor James Slater to get the oil transferred from offshore facilities to onshore plants as an attempt to “kill the project.”
“It took ten years to get oil platforms from five miles offshore to one mile offshore,” said Bolding. “To bring a pipeline from the Las Flores Canyon…to Los Angeles would take us through fourteen political subdivisions and I don’t have that much time left in my lifetime.”
The Supervisors have tentatively scheduled meetings with state and federal authorities regarding the Exxon permit. But Bolding does not think the permit will be suspended.
“Because we are operating in federal waters under federal regulations, I hardly see how it would happen,” he said. “Our lease has been reviewed for 10 years and every time they’ve (the federal government) told us to go ahead.”