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Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors hears testimonies on potential PCEC oil wells

Members of the community came out in the dozens Tuesday morning to speak their mind on a potential construction project that would add 96 new wells with 48 of the existing wells being replaced on the Pacific Coast Energy Company’s facility at Orcutt Hill.

The potential project’s impact on the environment was a major talking point for opponents of the new wells.
They say this project could lead to more earthquakes and even release toxic gas into the air, creating a hazardous atmosphere for those who live around the plant.

“The applicant indicates the hydrogen sulfide levels could be as high as 20,000 parts per million – at that level, we are not dealing with odor annoyance – it’s 20 times the lethal level,” Dr. Cox a retired physician in Santa Barbara county testifies.

The impact on the economy was another factor brought up before the board, with advocates saying the construction on this project would add tons of jobs to the community – something they believe has been on the decline.

“Generally when the economy is on an upswing, so is construction – that’s not the case on the central coast,” says one community member.

In addition to added jobs, advocates also say the new construction will add more tax revenue to the local community.

Several neighbors say they’re not interested in more oil wells, with one Orcutt resident saying: “The oil industry is pushing hard into our community and the effects can be devastating.”

Ultimately the board decided to table discussions until November 1st. On the 1st, the board will re-review all of the testimony heard Tuesday as well as possibly decide on one of two alternatives pitched to PCEC: the Careaga Exclusion Project and a California Tiger Salamander Project which would reduce the potential land use of new project by up to 40% to ensure wildlife protection.

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