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Majority Of Key State Panel Now Opposes Proposal For New Drilling From Oil Platform Off South Coast

A controversial proposal for some new oil drilling of an existing oil platform off the Santa Barbara County coastline could be dead, with two of the three members of a key state panel now saying they oppose the plan.

Venoco wants to redrill and extend six wells from Platform Holly, off the coast of Goleta. In exchange, it is offering to give back some lease areas, and to set a timeline for shutting down the platform, and other facilities. Environmentalists have rejected the proposal.

The three person State Lands Commission will ultimately decide the issue.

Last week, State Controller Betty Yee issued a statement rejecting the proposal. This week, a second Commission member, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, made a surprising statement during the public comment part of the panel’s meeting.

He responded to some people who spoke in opposition to the project, even though it wasn’t on the commission’s agenda.

"I wanted to just say that project's dead, but that would be...that would opinion, which I guess I can express, as the Controller expressed hers," said Newsom.

The project's application is still pending before the commission, so nothing is official at this point.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.