Some opposition to Aera Energy’s proposed East Cat Canyon oil field project is not unexpected, since there are some folks who disapprove of any oil production, anywhere, ever. But the fact is that California needs oil, and it makes both environmental and economic sense to access the reserves in our own back yard. Here’s why:
Aera’s project will re-develop an existing oil field, where production had previously occurred for decades. No fresh water will be used for production, and safety systems will be installed to protect groundwater and surface water. Further, project buildings will use state-of-the-art solar technology.
Nearly 90 percent of the site will be unchanged or permanently preserved, and it will include a 500-acre wildlife and oak tree conservation area.
And yes, there will be economic benefits. The UC Santa Barbara Economic Forecast Project estimates the project will generate more than $1.3 billion in total economic activity, hundreds of well-paying jobs, and more than $250 million in taxes that will support schools, public safety, and other essential services — all while complying with local and federal regulations, and California’s strictest-in-the-nation environmental laws.
Before a single well can be drilled a comprehensive Environmental Impact Report will be required, and citizens will have ample opportunity to ask questions and provide comments at a public hearing to be convened by the County.
Ironically, should opponents succeed in stopping this project they could be the cause of higher emissions, and the importing of oil produced under weaker regulations than California’s.
Rick Rust is public affairs project manager for Aera Energy LLC.