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KCBX News Update: SB County denies oil well restart, and SLO County COVID cases continue to decline

A polling location in San Luis Obispo prepares for election day.
Gabriela Fernandez
A polling location in San Luis Obispo prepares for election day.

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.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.
Benjamin Purper came to KCBX in May of 2021 from California’s Inland Empire, where he spent three years as a reporter and Morning Edition host at KVCR in San Bernardino. Dozens of his stories have aired on KQED’s California Report, and his work has broadcast on NPR's news magazines, as well. In addition to radio, Ben has worked as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer.
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