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Friday, April 10, 2009


Court Battle is soon over Santa Barbara Coastal Oil Drilling

Paredon Goes to Court on April 21

from EDC 4/6/2009--For the past three years, the Environmental Defense Center, Carpinteria Valley Association, Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs, Get Oil Out! and the Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter, along with hundreds of Carpinteria residents, have participated in the City of Carpinteria's review of the proposed Venoco oil drilling project known as "Paredon."

On February 2, 2009, Venoco, Inc. notified the City of Carpinteria that the company intended to circulate an initiative petition regarding the proposed Paredon oil drilling project. Although it pretends otherwise, Venoco's initiative would completely circumvent the City's normal public planning and environmental review processes, and would deny the community access to critical information. It would discourage informed public dialogue and community engagement, vital and necessary components of any planning process. In addition, the oil company has drafted an initiative that violates the California Constitution and a host of other state laws. The City is charged with upholding the law and preserving the public welfare, and Carpinteria officials acted responsibly when they requested a judicial ruling on the legality and appropriateness of Venoco's oil drilling initiative.

The Carpinteria City Attorney's complaint lists six causes of action against Venoco, including charges that the initiative contains provisions that are unconstitutional and illegal under state law. For example, voter initiatives may only propose legislative, or law-making, acts; administrative acts, such as issuing development permits, may not be proposed by voter initiative. The complaint further describes how the initiative is inconsistent with Carpinteria's General Plan, how the initiative is "unconstitutionally vague, misleading and contains false statements," how it conflicts with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and how it would "impair essential government functions" of the City of Carpinteria.

None of the City's claims impedes or disparages public involvement or community decision-making; the City is actually working to protect these citizen's rights. The City's case will is currently scheduled to be heard in Superior Court on April 21 (date may be subject to change: stay tuned).

EDC and our clients support the City of Carpinteria in its efforts to preserve the public planning process.

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