Santa Barbara County’s decision to impose a strict cap on carbon emissions from a proposed oil project puts the county at a competitive disadvantage in California and likely will cut into the money energy firms pump into the regional economy.
The Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 on Nov. 12 to require Santa Maria Energy to cap its carbon emissions at 10,000 tons per year. Santa Maria Energy had proposed 136 wells for a site near Orcutt.
Santa Barbara County’s oil is thick and viscous. In order to extract it, companies inject steam into wells to soften the oil. Burning natural gas to create the steam is what generates the bulk of carbon emissions.
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