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Governor Signs Bill By State Senator From Santa Barbara To Deal With Abandoned Oil Wells

There are hundreds of old abandoned oil wells off the Santa Barbara County coastline. A new law may help insure they are safely capped.

The governor signed into law a bill by a state senator from Santa Barbara to monitor and cap some abandoned, and potentially leaky oil wells off the California coast.

Governor Brown signed SB 44, the Coastal Oil Well Cleanup and Remediation Act. It requires the State Lands Commission to catalog and plug so-called “orphan” wells off the coast, and provides two million dollars annually from state mineral leases to pay for the effort.

The legislation was authored by Democratic State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson of Santa Barbara. It was motivated by the fact there are an estimated 200 abandoned wells off the Santa Barbara County coastline.

More than 190 are off of Summerland, with some of the old wells more than a century old. Because the companies which drilled them have been in most cases been gone for decades, there is no one else to take responsibility for insuring they are capped.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.