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Wednesday, December 12 , 2018, 3:06 am | Fair 45º


Santa Barbara County Votes to Set Hearing to Address Energy Crisis

The hearing, applauded by SOS California, will give the Board of Supervisors an opportunity to set forth a policy position on offshore oil resources.

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors passed a motion Tuesday to set a hearing date of Aug. 26 to address the nation’s energy crisis and its short- and long-term local effects.

The hearing will give the board an opportunity to set forth a policy position on offshore oil resources and communicate the position to appropriate state and federal officials.

“We believe it is important for Santa Barbara residents to become better informed about the potential for increased, near term, safe offshore energy production to generate new California energy resources, large royalties and tax revenue for California and Santa Barbara County,” said Bruce Allen, co-founder of SOS California, an environmental nonprofit organization. “These new resources can provide the opportunity to fund needed solar, electric vehicle, other renewable programs, county tax reductions, public education and other vital county programs.”

Two weeks ago, a motion to continue the moratorium on offshore drilling in California coastal waters was withdrawn.

“SOS looks forward to the public becoming better informed about the UCSB peer-reviewed research showing that increased offshore oil and gas production can lead to further meaningful reductions in the extensive natural offshore oil seeps that are the main sources of Santa Barbara County’s oil and tar pollution in the ocean and on our beaches,” SOS Executive Director Judy Rossiter said.

Rising crude prices, now near $5 a galloon in Santa Barbara, are getting the public’s attention on the need for increased energy resources, furthering SOS California’s education efforts on seepage reduction through expanded drilling and the safety record of the offshore oil industry since the 1969 oil spill in the Santa Barbara Channel. New technologies also are allowing greater opportunities to drill offshore oil resources from land, reducing the need for offshore platforms.

Among SOS California’s previous findings:

» Peer-reviewed published reports document the connection between existing Santa Barbara offshore oil production and reductions in natural seepage pollution in the past 20 years and the potential for greater reductions through expanded offshore oil and gas production.

» Lifting the federal offshore moratorium can result in new oil and gas production in coastal waters in as little as three years. New technology allows slant drilling from land out into the ocean, or from existing offshore platforms to a range of 5-plus miles horizontally. With a 39-year safety record of offshore oil and gas production, environmentally sound and responsible offshore extraction is attainable in the Santa Barbara Channel.

» With 200,000 barrels per day or more of increased oil and gas production possible, oil and gas prices in California can be lowered while cutting oil imports to California by 50 percent or more.

» California’s benefit from increased oil and gas production poses enormous potential — and could mean as much as $300 million in new tax revenue per year for Santa Barbara County. These new funds could support large solar and renewable residential electricity credits and large electric/plug-in hybrid vehicle rebates for every household of up to $10,000.

» Increased offshore production also could permanently reduce the environmental effects of natural seepage on the ocean, beaches and atmosphere and generate the revenue necessary to permanently and significantly reduce gasoline consumption in Santa Barbara County, moving residents away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy sources.

In the next 45 days, SOS will step up its education and awareness program throughout the county.

Judy Rossiter represents SOS California.


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