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PXP hopes for a new deal

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After months of stalled planning, the three environmental groups made infamous for penning a semi-private deal with a Texas-based oil company have revealed a newly revised agreement aimed at ending drilling off the Santa Barbara coastline.

On April 7, Santa Barbara Democratic Rep. Lois Capps and 1st District Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal joined representatives for the Environmental Defense Center (EDC), Get Oil Out! (GOO!), and Citizens Planning Association of Santa Barbara at a press conference in Santa Barbara to present the new 2010 Tranquillon Ridge Plan to the public.

According to EDC officials, the new plan “modifies and enhances” the 2008 agreement reached by GOO!, CPA, and PXP by addressing concerns expressed by the California State Lands Commission.

That project would have allowed PXP to slant drill from Platform Irene into the Tranquillon Ridge, located off the coast of Lompoc, in exchange for shutting down four of its oil production facilities by 2022.

The commission, however, ultimately denied that agreement at a hearing in January 2009.

Opposing commission members, including then Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, and dozens of environmental groups feared the project would open the state to more drilling projects. As a result, the parties involved worked on making the deal more transparent and more enforceable.

Here are some of the key revisions to the new plan:

• All agreements made by the environmental groups and PXP will be made public.

• The State of California, including the State Lands Commission, is granted the right to enforce the settlement agreement with PXP.

• PXP is required to surrender its federal oil leases, eliminating its ability to operate its four drilling platforms.

• PXP would have to disgorge, or give up, any profits that result from the end dates being violated.

• The Trust for Public Land has confirmed that there are no title or other issues that would interfere with the conveyance of the 3,900 acres of land for public benefit. These lands include the onshore support facilities and oil wells. ∆

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