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Santa Barbara County pondering fracking ban

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POSTED May 18, 2014 8:03 p.m.

SANTA BARBARA  (AP) — A proposal by an environmental group to ban fracking in Santa Barbara County is headed to the board of supervisors on Tuesday.

For the past several months, Santa Barbara County Water Guardians have worked to collect enough signatures to propose a ban on hydraulic fracking, which injects large amounts of water, sand and chemicals into rock formations to release oil.

The group gathered 16,000 signatures, 3,000 more than needed to get the issue on the upcoming ballot, the Santa Maria Times reported.

The initiative now goes to the county Board of Supervisors. Members may vote on the issue directly or choose to put it on the Nov. 4 ballot.

If passed, the ban would apply to unincorporated regions of Santa Barbara County. In 1969, an oil platform blowout in the Santa Barbara Channel spoiled miles of beaches and killed wildlife. It would not affect existing projects or projects that use traditional oil drilling techniques.

Santa Barbara County Water Guardians have said a ban is necessary to protect the county’s water and air quality, but the oil industry argued that it would cost the county jobs and property tax revenue.

Earlier this year, the Los Angeles City Council moved to prohibit fracking and will hold a final vote once an ordinance has been drafted.

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