KCBX News Update: SB County denies oil well restart, and SLO County COVID cases continue to decline
Santa Barbara supervisors reject ExxonMobil's bid to restart oil wells
ExxonMobil will not be allowed to restart three of its oil wells off the coast of Santa Barbara after the county’s Board of Supervisors rejected the company’s bid to truck oil along Highways 101 and 166.
The three offshore rigs have been shut down since the Refugio Oil Spill near Santa Barbara in 2015 leaked more than 100-thousand gallons of crude oil onto the beach and into the ocean.
The Board was split, with a 3-2 vote in favor of rejecting the trucking. A major factor in the decision was environmental concern in light of two recent oil spills in California.
In May 2020, an oil tanker crashed and spilled oil on Highway 166. Last fall, an oil pipeline in Huntington Beach spilled thousands of gallons of oil into the ocean.
Environmental groups are strongly in favor of the decision, saying this will help protect biological, water and cultural resources.
ExxonMobil disagrees with the decision, saying in a statement to KCBX News, the decision “disregards our employees, contractors and countless others working in California’s oil and gas industry who depend on these jobs to support their families."
Exxon says restarting operations at the Santa Ynez Unit would return local crude production to California rather than relying on oil imported from across the world.
SLO County COVID-19 cases down, deaths continue
New COVID-19 cases in San Luis Obispo County continue to decline and the pressure on the healthcare system is easing.
Public Health said today there are 344 active COVID-19 cases in the county, while the 14-day daily case average has dropped to 46.
The number of deaths, however, has not slowed. The Public Health Department today confirmed 17 more deaths since last week.
The county says access to treatment options like FDA approved pills are now widely available for those at higher risk of severe disease.
Public health officials still recommend vaccinations and masks in crowded spaces as the best ways to prevent severe illness.
Painted Cave pile burning began today, will last into tomorrow
A pile burn project started today near Painted Cave Road off Highway 154 in Santa Barbara County which will last into tomorrow, weather permitting.
Fire personnel are burning about seven total acres of brush to help prevent the spread of wildfires and reduce impacts to watersheds that can result in soil loss and sedimentation.
Painted Cave Road has been hit by devastating wildfires in the past, including a deadly event in 1990 and another fire again in 2019.
Officials say they are monitoring air quality in the burn area, and they advise avoiding strenuous activities and remaining indoors.