Southern California Gas Storage Enhancement Project
[Web page updated 10/09/14]
The Land Use Permit for the La Goleta Project was approved on September 17, 2014 and no appeals were filed by the end of the appeal period on September 29, 2014. The LUP was issued on October 7, 2014 upon completion of certain requirements. SoCal Gas is now in the process of final Building & Safety review of grading and building plans. Site preparation and construction are expected to begin within the next few weeks.
SoCal Gas applied for the Land Use Permit (LUP) for the La Goleta project in August 2014. The LUP is required to ensure that all plans and other requirements stipulated in the March 2014 Coastal Development Permit (CDP) have been met before construction may begin. Submittal of the LUP and its pending approval was noticed via mailings to interested parties and signs posted on the property.
The proposed project involves drilling four new wells for exploration and production of native gas at the existing La Goleta Storage Field. The produced native gas would be treated and placed into the SoCal Gas transmission pipeline system. The withdrawal of native gas would expand the existing gas storage capacity of 21.5 billion cubic feet by up to 3-5 billion cubic feet. The expanded capacity would provide for future increases in natural gas demand in the SoCal Gas service territory. SoCal Gas has applied for a Revised Development Plan, a Coastal Development Permit, and an Ordinance Amendment to Article II of Chapter 35 of the Santa Barbara County Code (the Coastal Zoning Ordinance) for this project.
Southern California Gas Company operates a natural gas storage field, La Goleta Storage Field, located on More Ranch Road in the Goleta area. SoCal Gas purchases market quality natural gas when prices are low and stores it in a depleted gas reservoir located at the La Goleta. The gas is withdrawn at times of high demand and sold to consumers located in 12 counties in central and southern California.
2011 EIR: In 2009, Energy Division staff found the SoCal Gas project application complete and began environmental review by preparing an initial study. The initial study identified one significant impact to visual resources resulting from the temporary presence of the proposed drilling rig. The EIR public scoping meeting for the proposed project was held at Goleta City Hall on March 18, 2010. The meeting was lightly attended by the public. Two residents provided verbal comments. One speaker voiced concerns about project noise and vibration, while the other expressed concern about construction traffic on More Ranch Road. Interested agencies and the public provided further comments during the 45-day NOP review period (February 22 to April 12, 2010). Concerns raised in the comments include visual impacts from the drilling rig, noise and vibration, public safety, air quality and water quality. These comments helped to define the scope of the EIR. A Draft EIR for the SoCal Gas storage project was released for public review on May 24, 2011 through July 8, 2011. A public workshop was held on June 6, 2011 and an Environmental Hearing on June 30, 2011.
Revised Draft EIR: Based on comments received on the 2011 EIR, the County made several revisions to the Draft EIR and released a Revised Draft EIR for public review on December 5, 2012. A public workshop on the Revised Draft EIR was held on December 17, 2012 and an Environmental Hearing was held on January 23, 2013. The public review period for the Revised Draft EIR closed on February 13, 2013. All comments received on the Revised Draft EIR were responded to in the Response to Comments section of the Final EIR. Where appropriate, changes were made to the Revised Draft EIR text in response to comments received and incorporated into the Final EIR.
Planning Commission Action: On June 5, 2013, the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission voted 5-0 to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the La Goleta Storage Field Enhancement Project. Approximately 50 people attended the Planning Commissionís hearing and nine spoke in opposition to the project. The Planning Commissionís recommendations included:
- Adoption of the proposed amendments to the Public Utility zone district in the Coastal Zoning Ordinance, with the addition of a prohibition on hydraulic fracturing for exploration and production of native natural gas.
- Certification of the EIR for the project, including addition of Appendix X to the Final EIR (Title Review Report).
- Approval of the revised final development plan and coastal development permit for the project, with conditions.
Board of Supervisors Action: On June 25, 2013, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 (Supervisor Carbajal absent) to approve the La Goleta Storage Field Enhancement Project. The Board approved the project with minor revisions to four of the permit conditions recommended by the County Planning Commission. The Notice of Determination for the La Goleta Storage Field expansion project was posted on July 1, 2013. This posting began the 30-day period for filing a legal challenge to the environmental impact report prepared for the project (SCH#2010021069). This challenge period ended August 1, 2013, with no challenges being filed.
The first Notice of Final Action (NOFA) was transmitted to the Coastal Commission’s office and a ten-day appeal period was set to expire on July 17, 2013. Coastal Commission staff subsequently requested that the NOFA be withdrawn to allow the Coastal Commission to first act on certification of the related Coastal Zoning Ordinance amendment. The NOFA was withdrawn July 12, 2013.
The California Coastal Commission certified the Coastal Zoning Ordinance Amendment associated with the project, as submitted by the County, at its November 13, 2013 hearing. The Notice of Final Action (NOFA) was re-transmitted to the Coastal Commission South Central Coast office (Ventura) on November 14, 2013. An appeal to the California Coastal Commission of the County’s June 25, 2013 approval of the coastal development permit (CDP) for the project was withdrawn on February 10, 2014.
The environmental documents for the project may be viewed here: Final EIR and Appendices.