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Oil and Chemical Spills
In Santa Barbara County, oil firms and environmentalists square off
In Santa Barbara County, oil firms and environmentalists square off

Seen from U.S. 101, northern Santa Barbara County looks to be mostly vineyards and cattle ranches, with majestic oak trees scattered across the dry rolling hills. But up a narrow road, spread across the chaparral between Orcutt and Los Alamos, wells drilled deep into the shale have yielded more than 180 million barrels of oil in the 113 years since Union Oil Co. geologist William Orcutt first surveyed the area that would soon bear his name. The bobbing pump jacks, pipelines and tanks on Orcutt Hill, not visible from the highway, now produce 3,500 barrels of oil a day for Pacific Coast Energy Co. But company managers say the 6,000-acre operation, like similar ones nearby, is threatened by...

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