The State Lands Commission (SLC) met for the first time in Santa Barbara County in April and we were honored to host them at the City of Goleta’s Council Chambers. The location was fitting, given the City’s ongoing partnership with the SLC on the plugging and decommissioning of historic wells and oil and gas infrastructure along Goleta’s coast. Mayor Paula Perotte began the meeting by welcoming the Commission and acknowledging this important partnership. The April meeting was also the first hybrid SLC meeting where the public participated both in-person (in the City of Goleta) and virtually.
Before the meeting, the public was invited to participate in a field trip that included two site visits. The participants went to Rincon and Piers 421 oil and gas decommissioning sites. Both site visits were well attended and a terrific opportunity for the community to see the work the Commission is doing to decommission oil and gas operations.
The Commission expressed its gratitude to the City of Goleta for hosting the Commission and to Mayor Paula Perotte for welcoming the Commission. During the meeting, the Commission issued dozens of new leases and permits that authorize the use of sovereign land in Northern California, the Bay/Delta area, and in Central and Southern California. The Commission also exercised its oversight authority over legislatively-granted lands by considering several tideland trust expenditures, and exercised its fiduciary responsibilities related to the oil and gas operations on granted lands in the City of Long Beach. A couple of other highlights are below:
Pier 421 (Ellwood piers in the city of Goleta) Decommissioning Project
This project is the Commission’s first major decommissioning project in the Ellwood Fields offshore Santa Barbara. The Commission certified an Environmental Impact Report that analyzes the environmental impacts of removing two oil piers and the connecting access roadway. The two derelict piers are the last vestiges of pier-based oil production in the Santa Barbara Channel. The Commission approved the removal of the piers, which reside on public lands, and will continue to facilitate solutions to funding future removal of the roadway. The project will remove beach obstructions, eliminate potential long-term hydrocarbon releases from contaminated soil, improve water quality, and increase public access to the beach.
Briefing on the Offshore Oil and Gas Production and Pipeline Leases Managed by the Commission
Interest in ending offshore oil and gas production has grown in recent months following last October’s offshore oil spill in southern California from a pipeline in federal waters. This interest has resulted in state legislation that would require the Commission to look at ways to accelerate the end of the offshore oil and gas leases it manages. Against this backdrop, staff briefed the Commission about the status of its offshore oil and gas production and pipeline leases, and the statutory framework governing these leases and operations. The briefing provided comprehensive information about the 11 remaining active oil and gas producing leases and the 13 pipeline leases that the Commission manages, as well as information about the oil and gas operations offshore in the City of Long Beach. This overview was also an opportunity to focus on California’s evolving transition away from fossil fuel extraction and how the Commission can be part of California’s clean energy future. During the presentation, staff noted that in the last six years, the Commission has facilitated the termination of 10 offshore oil and gas leases, returning over 20,000 acres to California’s coastal sanctuary. The Commission directed staff to continue to think about new ways to approach its work to achieve a clean energy future.
For more information on the State Lands Commission, visit https://www.slc.ca.gov/.
Pictured left-to-right: Jennifer Lucchesi, Executive Officer, California State Lands Commission; Matt Dumlao, Chief of Staff and Alternate to Lt. Governor and Commission Member Eleni Kounalakis; Betty Yee, State Controller and Chair of the California State Lands Commission; Paula Perotte, City of Goleta Mayor; Gayle Miller, Chief Deputy Director and Alternate for Director of the Department of Finance, Keely Bosler