James Von Essen
Senators voted to support the Sierra Club’s opposition to the Cat Canyon oil expansion project at the Student Senate meeting Friday.
The Sierra Club is a California based environmental protection organization, whose mission is “to promote the preservation, restoration, and enjoyment of California’s environment.”
Katie Davis, chair of the Los Padres chapter, attended the meeting urging senators to sign a letter to Santa Barbara’s Planning Commission opposing the ERG project.
“We should not be doubling down on the worst kind of fossil fuels,” Davis said. “Instead we should build a clean energy economy for the future.”
The oil expansion project consists of three different projects by three different companies, ERG, Aera and PetroRock, all located on Cat Canyon Road in Santa Maria.
Davis said these projects would be extremely detrimental to the environment, saying that ERG uses a process called acidizing that uses “high concentrations of toxic chemicals,” to clear out wells and create channels for oil to go through.
She also said there would be drilling through the Santa Maria groundwater basin, the largest clean drinking water source in the county. She added that the basin is only 1,900 feet away from Benjamin Foxen Elementary School.
She claimed ERG’s oil project would nearly triple Santa Barbara County’s greenhouse gas emissions, creating 1.8 million metric tons of greenhouse gas in the course of a year.
The Channels reached out to the ERG for comment but received no response.
Alan Morales, commissioner of clubs and organizations, motioned to sign the Sierra Club’s letter to the planning commission. The motion passed unanimously.
The Student Senate additionally motioned to consider creating a resolution opposing all three of the Cat Canyon oil expansion projects at their next meeting.
President Josh Villanueva said, “by us creating a resolution we can continue to oppose these efforts.”
In an outside interview with The Channels, Davis explained it is extremely important that students be aware and involved with this movement.
“It’s important to show a lot of different groups opposing this,” she said. “I can’t understate how important it is to make a different choice and pursue clean energy instead.”
The senate will reconvene at the next meeting on March 15.