SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - The federal government appears willing to pursue what California state regulators said they would not do.
The U.S. Air Force is considering allowing energy companies to slant drill for oil and gas off the coast of Vandenberg Air Force Base.
The U.S. Air Force is studying the potential impacts of slant drilling or what they're calling "extended reach production", by contractors with existing on-base oil and gas operations at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
If the green light is given, it could open up off-shore production of what's believed to be massive underwater oil and gas deposits beneath the so-called Tranquilion Ridge just off the west coast of Vandenberg Air Force Base.
"It accomplishes the very things that Get Oil Out (GOO) has been fighting for for the last 41 years, removal of oil platforms and facilities, restoration of the coast and return of land to the people", said a GOO spokesperson at a press conference in Santa Barbara back in 2010.
Then an unprecedented alliance between Santa Barbara County's infamous anti-oil environmental coalition and a local major energy company, PXP, joined forces to allow PXP to slant dill into the Tranquillion Ridge from one of its offshore oil platforms off of Vandenberg Air Force Base.
In return, PXP pledged to retire and remove all of its other existing onshore and offshore oil and gas platforms and processing plants including the massive plant near Gaviota.
At the time, many called it an historic deal for Santa Barbara County with the County standing to reap millions of dollars a year in tax revenue from the PXP project.
But the California State Lands Commission killed the deal with former State Lands Commissioner and current Congressman John Garamendi casting the deciding no vote.
In a statement to Central Coast News, the U.S. Air Force Space Command says a lease for extended reach oil and gas production from Vandenberg Air Force is by no means a done deal and must be found to be compatible with the overall mission of the base.
The statement says if a lease is granted the Air Force is committed to working with all interested parties to ensure responsible development from the on-base installation.
The Air Force says if a slant drilling lease is granted at Vandenberg Air Force the energy company involved would be responsible for complying with additional federal, state or county requirements.