Santa Barbara County has slammed the door on the fingers of the Santa Maria Energy project — but not taken a stand that shuts that door completely. The approach has been, ‘If we can’t block it, we’ll regulate it in to nonprofitability.’
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.
Ventura County has an diverse array of energy assets, but the rules are going to have to change if innovation is going to flourish in the region.
That was my takeaway after moderating two panels on the future of energy at the Ventura County Economic Development Association’s annual business outlook conference on Oct. 25.
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On one side of the argument is jobs and America’s manufacturing resurgence. On the other is fracking and its environmental impact.
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