SUMMERLAND, Calif. - Governor Jerry Brown signed Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson's bill 44 into law on Tuesday. Senate Bill 44 brought attention and set aside funding to clean up the mess legacy oil wells off the coast has created.
The gas and oil wells were created in the mid-to-late 1800's off the Summerland and Santa Barbara coast. Once the companies shut down, they abandoned the oil wells.
"The bottom line is when these companies left, many of them left and simply shoved rags or something else down the oil wells themselves without properly covering them so this oil could not continue to leak," said State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D) Santa Barbara.
Years later with almost 200 abandoned legacy wells off the Santa Barbara County coast, the wells are still leaking oil and toxic fumes.
SB 44 redirects up to $2 million dollars annually from the State Lands Commission to a fund set aside for the remediation of the improperly abandoned legacy wells. The Commission will study the old wells and prioritize remediation to address the highest risk wells first.
Senator Jackson believes the new law will help keep the coast and residents healthy.