SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - Santa Barbara County voters will decide the fate of a proposed ordinance that would ban future high intensity oil and gas production, including fracking, cyclic steam injection and acidization in unincorporated areas of the county.
Santa Barbara County Supervisors voted unanimously to place the controversial issue on the November ballot following a marathon special hearing in Santa Maria.
An overflow crowd packed the Santa Barbara County Supervisors Hearing Room in Santa Maria for the special meeting on the proposed ban on future high intensity petroleum operations in the county.
About a hundred people requested to speak during the public comment portion of the hearing that lasted about three hours.
Supporters of the "Healthy Air and Water Initiative" wore the blue t-shirts they used in a countywide petition drive that collected more than 15,000 signatures in less than a month that brought the issue before the Board of Supervisors.
County Supervisors had two options, either adopt the ordinance in the next ten days or let county voters decide in November.
Supporters of the ban told the Board they are concerned about harmful impacts of high intensity extraction methods to groundwater supplies, private well water and air quality.
Opponents of the ordinance who showed up at the hearing included dozens of local energy industry workers, industry and business advocates and landowners who say the proposed ordinance amounts to the illegal taking of private property mineral rights and royalty rights.
Supervisors voted unanimously to put the proposed Healthy Air and Water Initiative on the November 4 ballot.
The initiative will need only a simple majority vote to pass or fail.
Of the more than 1,100 onshore oil and gas wells currently in production in Santa Barbara County, none involve fracking and most requests for new well production involves cyclic steam injection.Slideshow: SB County Voters to Decide High-Intensity Petroleum Ban