Santa Barbara Assemblymember Pedro Nava bookended Christmas and New Year’s by wading into the thick of two high profile news stories. In the first, Nava posed with the demolished carcass of an automobile battered in a car crash to highlight the point that drinking and driving don’t mix, not even during the season of egg not and champagne. Specifically, Nava was referring to the fatal accident on Highway 101 near La Conchita. In that case, the inebriated driver of a pick-up truck slammed into a vehicle that had been pulled over to the side of the road by a CHP motorcycle cop. In that case, both vehicles burst into flames, the driver of the stationary vehicle was killed, and the motorcycle cop was sent flying out of his boots and 50 feet into the air.
Nava also announced that he planned to give accident-prone Greka Oil a third-degree Sacramento burn right here in Santa Barbara on January 4 when he hosts a joint meeting of the Emergency Services and Homeland Security Committee and the Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials. The meeting will take place in the David Gephard Room of the city’s Public Works building at 630 Garden Streets to determine just how out-of-compliance Greka Oil has become. Nearly 44,000 barrels of thick, viscous crude leaked into an unnamed creek near Santa Maria three weeks ago as a result Greka facility malfunction. Greka has amassed one of the messiest environmental track records of any oil company in the county since it set up operations here in 1999. (The Santa Maria facility alone experience three small spills in September, resulting in the temporary closure of the plant.) Because of this, Greka has become a regulatory hot spot as well political pi±ata. Before Nava got involved, the county supervisors had scheduled a full hearing on Greka’s compliance record-and efforts to bring what’s regarded as a rogue operation under control-for January 15.