Tell Santa Barbara County Supervisors to reject the Santa Maria Energy Project. This 136 well oil drilling expansion would use immense amounts of water, contaminate air and water supplies and be one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in SB County history. If we are to head off devastating global warming, California should lead the way in transitioning to renewable energy and leave the dirtiest, most carbon-intensive oil in the ground. Santa Maria residents and the environment need to be protected.
- This is not the conventional oil we have been drilling for a hundred years. Increased production is only possible with the use of dangerous, polluting and energy-intensive processes like cyclic steam injection, hydraulic fracturing or acidification that are not appropriate for an area reliant on agriculture, wine and tourism.
- The SME project would generate 88,000 tons of global warming pollution per year. That's like adding 17,000+ gas guzzling cars to our roads. That's just to get the oil out of the ground, and doesn't include emissions from transporting, refining and burning the oil.
- The SME project would use 300,000 gallons of water per day, diverting wastewater currently used for irrigation and removing it from the water system. That's 15 swimming pools worth of water every single day.
- We don't have sufficient regulations or technology to prevent or clean spills. For instance, a similar cyclic steam extraction well in Canada has been leaking tens of thousands of barrels of oil for months and they don't know how to stop it. There have been thousands of reported leaks in North Dakota, where there has been a similar oil boom made possible by these new and polluting techniques. Similar projects have experienced high levels of arsenic and even radioactivity.
- This project would use wastewater reinjection wells, which have been linked to earthquakes. One USGS study found twenty times the occurrences of magnitude 3 or larger earthquakes in NM and CO after increases in waste-water injection. According to county maps, there are fault lines in the direct project area.
- Because of the immense reserves (estimated 15 billion barrels) of CA oil made accessible by these “enhanced” techniques and the carbon-intensive nature of this kind of project, it would encourage further exploitation of some of the dirtiest oil in the world, which would have a significant impact on overall greenhouse gas emissions.
Scientific consensus is that if we don't immediately start reducing emissions, positive feedbacks will cause temperatures to spiral out of our control with devastating consequences for life on earth.
California needs to lead the way by leaving the dirtiest of fossil fuels in the ground and encouraging a more rapid transition to renewable energy.