Idle Wells Hearing on May 24, 2022 at the Board of Supervisors

Please see this important message from our partners at the Environmental Defense Center (EDC) regarding the upcoming hearing about Idle Wells in Santa Barbara County. We hope you will speak up on Tuesday, May 24 and let the Board of Supervisors know we want more regulation and monitoring of these hazardous idle oil wells. 


Today, I am writing to ask for your help protecting clean air, our climate, and public health from dirty idle oil and gas wells, which can leak methane and contaminate our groundwater and farmland. Oil and gas companies sometimes "idle" their wells for many years, for instance in response to falling oil and gas prices, and the longer they sit idle the more likely they are to leak.

The Santa Barbara County Grand Jury released a dire report finding that right now over 1,300 idle oil wells pose a grave threat and that the County and State lack the resources to sufficiently ensure protection of our environment and community health.

Please make your voice heard today by demanding the County TAKE ACTION to investigate and monitor idle oil wells in order to protect our health, climate, and environment.

1. Speak up at the Virtual Public Meeting on Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Register to Comment: The link to register to comment will be available Thursday afternoon May 19 at this site:

You can give your comments in person or on zoom. 

2. Send Written Comments

Send your email to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors:  [email protected] by Friday, May 20, 2022 at noon. 

Please consider using the following talking points in addition to your own comments.

  • I am concerned about the impacts to health, clean air, drinking water, farmland, and climate from the 1,370 idle and orphaned oil and gas wells in Santa Barbara County.
  • Our County is not taking adequate steps to investigate, monitor, and regulate idle and orphaned oil and gas wells.
  • I request that the Board of Supervisors direct staff to investigate the status and regulation of idle and orphaned wells and provide an annual report at a public hearing, to include:
    • An inventory of the number and status of oil wells in the County including active, idle, orphaned, and abandoned wells, and the length of time wells have been sitting idle.
    • All fluid and methane leaks, seeps, noncompliance, violations, and other problems from idle and orphaned wells.
    • All interagency coordination and actions taken by County Planning and Development, Air Pollution Control District (“APCD”), County Fire, CalGEM, and State Water Board.
    • All County, APCD, state, and federal ordinances, regulations, inspections, and enforcement programs that regulate idle wells.
    • All readily available local and State information regarding problems with idle, orphaned, and abandoned oil and gas wells in in the County.
    • An investigation as to whether bonding is adequate to cover well capping and drill site restoration

Thank you for taking action on this important issue.
Alicia Roessler,
Senior Attorney