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The Santa Barbara County Water Guardians’ proposed ban on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and other high-intensity petroleum operations goes before the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, with more than enough valid voter signatures to place the proposed ordinance on the Nov. 4 ballot.

But before the group’s initiative goes before the board, the local volunteer-run group will join the public and the Sierra Club of California at Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara today for a local Hands Across the Sand event. These events are aimed at raising awareness about the impacts of using different fuel sources and ways of transitioning the country to affordable clean energy. A Hands Across the Sand event will also take place today at Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County.

The local events are two of hundreds taking place around the country and the world, but the local events take place amid discussions about the Water Guardians’ proposed local fracking ban and California’s proposed statewide fracking moratorium, known as SB 1132.

The Water Guardians collected approximately 16,000 signatures from registered Santa Barbara County voters, 3,000 signatures more than necessary to get its initiative on the upcoming ballot.

If passed, the initiative would ban fracking, cyclic steam injection and other forms of oil well stimulation in the unincorporated areas of Santa Barbara County. It would not pertain to existing projects or those projects using traditional oil drilling techniques.

The Board of Supervisors will receive a report on the proposed ban on May 20 and may vote the initiative directly into law or choose to put it on the Nov. 4 ballot. The board can also order a report on the ban’s possible impact on the county. The report would need to be presented no later than June 17.

According to group leaders, Santa Barbara County Water Guardians proposed the local ban to protect the county’s water and air quality as well as the health of residents and other local industries, such as tourism and agriculture. But those in the petroleum industry argue that the ban could cost the county jobs and property tax revenue.

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