SANTA BARBARA (AP) — Officials denied a request Tuesday by Exxon Mobil to temporarily use tanker trucks to transport crude oil through Santa Barbara County after a recent pipeline break that has become the state's largest coastal oil spill in 25 years.
The move came on the same day that California lawmakers formed a special legislative committee to investigate the May spill that caused as much as 101,000 gallons of oil to blacken beaches and create an ocean slick.
Santa Barbara County's Planning and Development director rejected Exxon's emergency permit application, saying it didn't meet the requirements for expedited review. Exxon can apply again through the regular permitting process, officials said.
Exxon normally moves oil from three offshore platforms through more than 10 miles of pipeline owned by Plains All American Pipeline. The movement has been stopped since the pipe ruptured on May 19, fouling beaches.
Environmentalists praised the decision.
Exxon Mobile spokesman Richard Keil said the company is disappointed in the decision and is reviewing its options.
In Sacramento, lawmakers announced the formation of the Select Committee on the Refugio Oil Spill, which will hold hearings to investigate how to avert similar incidents.
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat, said the spill was an avoidable tragedy.
The panel headed by Santa Barbara Democratic Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson will hold its first hearing later this month in Santa Barbara.
Jackson is also pushing legislation to increase the number of pipeline inspections and allow more boats to respond to future spills.
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