Tuesday, September 09, 2008

What are Seeps?

The Santa Barbara County board of Supervisors recently took up a symbolic resolution on the prospect of off-shore drilling along our stretch of the Central Coast. The measure passed. That and $1.50 will buy you a cup of coffee...

But it was an important vote symbolically. For too many years critics of off-shore drilling have cited the 1969 Santa Barbara Channel spill that decimated the South Coast as the ultimate example of why you don't want to drill for off-shore oil.

The Supervisors recognition that 40 years of technology make such a similar event very unlikely to ever happen again should put that argument to bed. But who knows?

While this article doesn't necessarily have much to do with that, it does take a look at some of the local politics involved in the issue. I especially liked the equivalent of the fact sheet at the end:

Oil and methane gas created in the heat and pressure under the ocean floor flows upward through faults and cracks in rocks.
Plumes of oil-coated methane bubbles reach the surface, creating natural oil slicks.

The natural seeps of crude oil and natural gas flowing into the ocean on and near the coast of California are among the largest and most active concentration of such seeps in the world.

Seeps off Coal Oil Point near UCSB put an average of 150-170 barrels of crude oil and 5 million cubic feet of natural gas into the ocean every day.

More than 1 million barrels of oil have seeped off the Southern and Central California coast since 1980.

Crude oil seeping into the sea from Coal Oil Point alone is equal to about 55,000 barrels of oil a year. About 1.8 billion cubic feet of natural gas is seeping annually into the atmosphere.

Seeps produce 122% more air pollution daily than all the motor vehicle trips in Santa Barbara County each day.

— SOURCE: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, U.S. Minerals Management Service, Western States Petroleum Association

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