Environmental Defense Center Appeals Drilling Project

Planning Commission Had Approved Santa Maria Energy’s Plan

The Environmental Defense Center on Friday filed an appeal to the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission’s 3-2 approval on 9/25 of the Santa Maria Energy Oil Drilling and Production Plan, said Nathan Alley, an attorney for the EDC. Located on a property near Orcutt, the project would see the construction of 110 new oil wells — there are already 26 pilot wells at the site — as well as two steam generators, a crude-oil pipeline, and a water pipeline that will transfer recycled wastewater from the Laguna County Sanitation District for the steam generators, which will emit greenhouse gases. The Planning Commission approved the project to have a 29 percent emissions threshold, releasing about 67,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases per year. The EDC has argued that the project could technically be held to zero emissions. The appeal will now go to the Board of Supervisors at a later date.

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