The UC Santa Barbara forecast in Santa Maria recently raised a provocative idea for speeding jobs and growth in the Central Coast: What if the North County opened the doors to more onshore oil-and-gas exploration and development?
Many experts believe that discoverable reserves are plentiful throughout the Tri-Counties. But getting permits is practically impossible at the local level and political obstacles are extreme. A plan floated in San Luis Obispo to rework several existing but shut-in wells barely became public before it was rejected by local officials.
Still, the reserves are there, jobs are going begging and tax revenue is being left on the table. Moreover, air- and water-quality regulations in California are extremely tough, something that will minimize environmental impacts.
States such as Colorado are proving they can be both magnets for green jobs and part of America’s emergence as a global player in oil and gas development. There may be a new opportunity for the Santa Maria Valley in energy exploration.