KCOY, November 7, 2013, By Keith Carls
SANTA MARIA - Santa Maria Energy is proposing to drill 136 oil wells in the 100 year old state-designated Orcutt Oil Field between Orcutt and Los Alamos.
The company plans to use a "cyclic steaming" process by employing giant steam generators to heat recycled water which is injected deep underground to heat and extract the crude oil.
Despite approval of the project by the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission, the Santa Maria Energy project has been appealed to the County Board of Supervisors next week.
Opponents say the project will create dangerously high greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to thousands of more cars on the roads and highways every day.
"This project uses a lot of steam and really high pressure to pump into the ground to extract this thick oil, and creating the steam creates a lot of greenhouse gas emissions", says Ken Hough of the Santa Barbara County Action Network, or SBCAN, which has joined a group of environmental organizations appealing the project, "so this is a pretty energy intensive operation to get the oil out of the ground and we're advocating they be required to mitigate those greenhouse gas emissions."
Among other environmental groups joined in the appeal is an Internet-based group called 350.org.
On its website, the organization touts itself as a global watchdog to fight climate change.
The group says its collected more than 3,100 online signatures for a web-based petition drive opposing the Santa Maria Energy project.
A 350.org spokesperson says most of the signatures are from Santa Barbara County residents but acknowledges many are from people who live out of the state and even in another country.
"That really speaks to the fact that greenhouse gas emissions are not just a local issue", says 350.org spokesperson Katie Davis, "this is really the moral question of our time and we're running out of time to reduce emissions."
The Santa Maria Energy Appeal is on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors agenda for its meeting on Tuesday in Santa Maria.