ERG Versus Our Community

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By Larry Bishop

A donnybrook took place Wednesday at the County Planning Commission meeting in Santa Maria over whether to approve a large expansion of ERG oil and gas drilling in Cat Canyon. ERG Petroleum faced off against an army of resource and climate defenders.

In the morning, the County Planning Department and ERG Inc. presented the Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and their case for going ahead with 187 new super steam injecting wells drilled through the Santa Maria groundwater basin. After lunch, the Commissioners heard comments from about 50 to 100 attendees. The comments were about 2 to 1 against this Sisquoc mega development. 

Commenting first, I got one minute to describe several “inadequacies” in the EIR. I picked three big ones which were:

(1) ERG is ignoring a natural gas Risk Management Plan requirement (H&S Code 6.95). Per the EIR, ERG won’t be required to comply with this safety code even when their gas production triples in the future.

(2) The EIR ignores recent Federal findings of cyclic steam oil extraction causing groundwater contamination at Orcutt Hill, Oxnard, and Bakersfield facilities.

(3)The EIR doesn’t describe code compliance by ERG at their current facilities, let alone potential compliance with regulations at a much larger and more dangerous facility.

After hearing all the comments, The Planning Commission said they will only consider comments from ERG, County planners and one opposing group, the Environmental Defense Center (EDC), at their next meeting. The EDC did a fantastic job in revealing many EIR flaws but then why did we all spend the whole day there? 

To ignore other EIR inadequacies, that myself and others detailed, is a blatant violation of the review process. Will the Commission conducts a legal evaluation of the EIR at their March 27 meeting? Stay tuned.


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10 Comments

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macpuzl Mar 22, 2019 05:50 PM
ERG Versus Our Community

And the oilies love "alternative facts": https://www.independent.com/2019/03/20/cat-canyon-emissions-numbers-are-wrong/

Luvaduck Mar 19, 2019 11:25 AM
ERG Versus Our Community

Anything that threatens an area's water supply should be an automatic no-go. I'd say, "make those who profit by it, drink the water for a year, if the water supply is compromised," but those who profit, profit big-time and they'd game that TOO.

Flicka Mar 19, 2019 09:37 AM
ERG Versus Our Community

This is bad enough with all the threat to the environment but the possibility of destroying the drinking water puts the whole project unacceptable. "It will be safe, nothing will happen" is the mantra of oil companies. Well, Santa Barbara wasn't Perfectly "safe" in 1969. The huge British Petroleum blowout in the Gulf was the result of equipment malfunctioning in 2010 from a "perfectly safe" rig as promised to Congress when the company assured "there will never be another Santa Barbara". Letting this Cat Canyon project go ahead would be morally wrong. Maybe the Planning Commissioners would take a good look at the possibilities of damage if they knew they could be sued when/if the water is contaminated.

Factotum Mar 19, 2019 08:41 AM
ERG Versus Our Community

Ironic that astro-turf is made from petroleum by-products. So much local " grass roots protest" is nothing more than ginned up astro-turf.

CoastWatch Mar 19, 2019 08:33 AM
ERG Versus Our Community

Who are the County Planning Commission Members (by name)? They should be outed, as apparently, they believe that they have "undisputed power of position" ...

Rinconer Mar 19, 2019 08:22 AM
ERG Versus Our Community

It appears as though the Planning Commission is breaking the law by limiting voices to favor an oil company that bribed the EPA so they could poison our county, our kids and grandkids county without repercussions. We are cowards if we allow this to happen.

a-1568607133 Mar 19, 2019 08:18 AM
ERG Versus Our Community

I have no knowledge of the particulars in this case. But, as a planning professional, I do know that the law requires every public comment that is raised during the review period to be formally answered in the Final EIR. You might remind the County Planners of that.

PitMix Mar 18, 2019 04:22 PM
ERG Versus Our Community

The only people in favor of this development are the company owners and the union labor who want to preserve their salary and benefits in the short term even if it means ruining the environment for their kids in the long term. Steam injection is a silly way to extract oil. It seems hard to believe it is even a viable option.

Phantom Blot Mar 18, 2019 04:12 PM
ERG Versus Our Community

Check out our EPA czarino Mike Stoker’s relationship with Cat Canyon oil lease owners to find out what graft can do for your career. Follow the money all the way to the destruction of the earth. I would not be suprised if he authorizes the toxic waste from Casmalia Resources to be pumped into the ground as filler.....without telling anyone but the land rapers!!!

a-1568607133 Mar 18, 2019 02:15 PM
ERG Versus Our Community

Why would they only consider select comments at the next meeting? That doesn't sound right. Overwhelming opposition shouldn't mean the other side gets comment time out of proportion to their support, save a single commenter from the opposition... Anyway, thanks for going and speaking, Larry. And for teaching me a new word - donnybrook

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