By KAREN VELIE
ExxonMobil is suing the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors after it denied a request to restart offshore oil wells shut down in 2015 following an oil pipeline spill.
Specifically, ExxonMobil asked the county board to approve interim trucking routes for the transportation of oil from its offshore drilling platforms. The plan was for up to 24,820 tanker trucks a year to transport the oil on Highway 101 and State Route 166 for up to seven years or until the damaged pipeline is replaced or repaired.
On May 19, 2015, a pipe belonging to Plains All American ruptured near Goleta, causing approxamtly 140,000 gallons of crude oil to spill. Much of the oil flowed into a culvert and then into a ditch that drains into the ocean.
In a 3-2 vote in March, the board denied ExxonMobil’s request.
ExxonMobil contends the denial was an unlawful abuse of discretion.
“Rather than focus on the merits of the project…the board improperly treated the consideration of the project as a referendum on offshore production as well as the transportation and use of crude oil in the County of Santa Barbara,” according to the lawsuit. “But that was not the issue before it. The only question before the board was whether the project complies with federal, state, and local law. It does.”