Nonprofit Receives Grant to Help Prevent Local Oil Production

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Source: Environmental Defense Center

Santa Barbara County faces a tripling of onshore oil production. Three oil companies are proposing to drill and operate over 700 new wells in Cat Canyon Oil Field, posing dangerous threats to clean air, clean water, public safety, and our climate. What’s more, these oil companies are not proposing conventional oil drilling, which is risky enough, but rather they are seeking permits for extreme, enhanced oil extraction processes known as cyclic steam injection and steam flooding, which are far riskier and more energy intensive than traditional drilling. The Environmental Defense Center (EDC) has just received $10,000 in grant funding from the Fund for Santa Barbara to help confront this major threat.

EDC is representing the Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter, Santa Barbara County Action Network (SBCAN,) and its own members to fight what has been called the most significant environmental justice issue to confront the County in decades. The projects pose significant threats to our climate, use enormous quantities of water and toxic chemicals, such as for acidizing, and jeopardize public health for local communities. Additionally, these projects will destroy native habitats, endanger wildlife, remove native oak trees, and generate over four hundred tanker truck trips every day on local roads. And finally, the oil companies seek to get around federal drinking water protections to dispose of their toxic waste into aquifers, and to streamline permitting under the Endangered Species Act, threatening the recovery of federally listed species.

“These destructive and irresponsible projects have united a broad coalition of social justice and environmental organizations,” said EDC attorney, Tara Messing. “These are enormously complex cases, requiring significant resources, and confronting very powerful corporate interests. EDC is grateful for the support provided by the Fund for Santa Barbara.”                        

The three projects are being proposed by Aera Energy, which is jointly owned by affiliates of Shell Oil and ExxonMobil, Terracore (formerly ERG), and PetroRock, and each on its own timetable.  EDC and its clients and partner organizations have been working to oppose these massive and dangerous oil projects since early 2017. Thanks in part to information and questions EDC has raised before the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission, Terracore’s project has been delayed, but within the next few months, we can expect to see Aera and Terracore back in front of the Planning Commission and then the Board of Supervisors for a decision. PetroRock has yet to release a draft environmental impact report for public comment.


Written by EDC

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  1. Here’s an abbreviated version of this article: “dangerous threats, risky, extreme, riskier, major threat, significant threats, jeopardize public health, destroy native habitats, endanger wildlife, toxic waste, threatening, destructive and irresponsible, massive and dangerous“. That there’s a lot of negative juju.

  2. This proposal does not even call for the construction of dozens of 500 foot tall structures that slaughter wildlife. Apparently that is a requirement to get support for a large scale energy project in this county.

  3. Extraction is one thing, but Fracking is bad. You would have to be an idiot to think injecting chemical steam far into the earth to break up and extract fossil fuel is an acceptable method. Where does that waste water go? This process is so bad for the environment, bad for groundwater and bad for areas near fault lines. It is unbelievable we have been allowing it and continue to do so. We have to move away from this type of extraction. Yes we need oil but not this way. I hate windmills and I drive a truck, so don’t call me a bunch of crazy names. You have to be able to see the whole picture, fracking should not even be in the frame.

  4. 4:23 – you described many local non-profit operations; not just EDC They ultimately exacerbate problems, not solve them. Their primary goal quickly becomes keeping the grant and donor money flowing and their own administrative jobs secure. And generate downstream problems which negatively impact the rest of us, why they ride from one shallow victory to the next. I am sure you can name other local issues which also cannot be “solved”, simply because of their calculated interference. For some reason there is over-supply of these ultimately disruptive non-profit organizations in this strange little town, who are allowed to operate with no program accountability.. The mood of this city will need a significant ideological change reflected in our local elections to repair this disconnect. You are not alone in your thinking. Soon this political shift will show in our local elections. I suspect this will happen sooner rather than later as the new generation arriving here daily will no longer accept this post-hippy era status quo.

  5. If negative climate-nag juju could be converted into positive energy production, mission would be accomplished. Except climate-nags must remain remain perpetually grumpy, in order to keep their negative juju a sustainable energy source..

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