A LEGACY WE'D RATHER NOT HAVE: OLD, LEAKING OIL WELLS
As our Earth Day celebrations begin this weekend, I wanted to share with you the work I am doing to address an important local environmental issue: old, leaking oil wells that are soiling our beaches.
When oil leaks, oil companies need to be held responsible. Sometimes, however, the company that originally drilled the well is long out of business.
This year, I'm authoring the Coastal Oil Well Cleanup Act, which would require that the California State Lands Commission plug very old leaking oil wells when the company that owned them no longer exists.
It is estimated that there are more than 200 of these so-called "legacy" wells along the California coast, most along the Summerland and Ellwood beaches in Santa Barbara County.
My bill is a response to a recent influx of oil onto Summerland Beach which has prompted health warnings and beach closures over the past year. The oil is believed to be coming from a well which dates back to the 1890s, long before we had requirements about how to responsibly cap wells.
The bill would also require the removal of coastal hazards such as wood and steel pilings and require the monitoring and studying of natural seepage, so we can better understand how to respond and prevent this naturally occurring phenomenon.
This week, I was pleased to see the Department of Conservation take action against an oil operator with wells on Rincon Island in Ventura County, ordering them to fix, replace and test old wells and equipment so they do not threaten our public health or environment.
Oil's impacts can be devastating and long-term. I hope to see you at local Earth Day celebrations over the next week. Let's recommit to a different sort of legacy for our grandchildren - a greener and cleaner future where we are less dependent on fossil fuels.
As always, I hope you will stay in touch. You can email me, and follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson
State Senator, 19th Senate District