California oil-drilling initiative to move to ballot this year
CARPINTERIA, California: After nearly six months of being given a temporary stay, a ballot initiative to approve an off-shore drilling project will be seen on this year's ballot. Judge Thomas Anderle denied a request from city attorney Peter Brown for an extension on the stay and had the issue go to court, where he deemed the initiative legitimate. Back in February, after Venoco Inc., a drilling company, filed a voter initiative with the city proposing an extended-reach drilling project. If passed, it would install a 140-foot drilling rig at their processing facility running in the Santa Barbara Channel, allowing access to oil and natural gas without using an offshore platform. Known as Project Paredon, officials claim it would produce 11,000 barrels of oil daily. According to Venoco, further funds would contribute millions to the Carpinteria Education Foundation, as well as many times that as a percentage the state as a whole would gain.
Shortly after the proposal was given to the city, the public came back with an official complaint challenging the legality of the initiative. Brown, the lead attorney in the lawsuit, said it would "circumvent the environmental review necessary for projects like Paredon" and that the project itself "is vague and contains false statements and violates Carpinteria's General Plan," which states initiatives can only cover legislative acts, not specific projects. Brown and his legal counsel Tim Irons maintained as much during the trial, saying that because "The issuance of that permit is adjudicatory, fundamentally, it's this administrative function that is being usurped from the city and transferred to the electorate." In the end, the judge overruled the argument and the company has said it will bring the initiative to voters as soon as possible.