Join us on March 4 for a CalGEM workshop in Santa Maria and rally before

With three projects on the horizon in the Cat Canyon Oil Field, Santa Barbara County is facing a massive increase in onshore oil and gas production using much dirtier and more dangerous extraction methods.

These projects that SBCAN and the Sierra Club are fighting together with theEnvironmental Defense Center would triple onshore oil production in the County and are located near the towns of Sisquoc and Garey.

The projects threaten surrounding communities’ air quality, drinking water, would add hundreds of oil tanker truck trips per day on their local roads and state highways and would bring the additional risk of spills threatening water, wildlife, and public health.

But, right now you can have a voice in California’s effort to update and strengthen regulatory oversight of oil and gas production to protect our communities and environment.

The California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) will hold a public workshop on Wednesday, March 4 at 6 P.M. at the Santa Maria Veterans Memorial Community Center, 313 W. Tunnel St., and they want to hear from you!(CalGEM was formerly known as the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR).

We will have a rally at 5 P.M. outside at the same location, then go inside to make comments.

CalGEM is working under a newly strengthened mission to prioritize public health, safety, and the environment in its oversight of oil and gas operations throughout the State. Consistent with this new mission, CalGEM is hosting a series of public workshops seeking input to inform the following rulemaking process and ultimately establish a transparent set of rules to protect residents and communities living near oil and gas operations.

SBCAN urges you to voice your concerns at this workshop to urge CalGEM to put strong protections in place to protect these vulnerable communities from toxic air, dirty water, and hazards from spills. In addition to Garey and Sisquoc, which are adjacent to the Cat Canyon oil fields, the entire Santa Maria Valley Groundwater Basin is at risk. More than 200,000 people rely on this basin for clean drinking water and 50,000 acres of prime farmland also rely on it. 

The thousands of active and abandoned oil wells that penetrate this groundwater basin already pose a huge risk and in some cases have already fouled the water. Adding hundreds more wells using the risky high-pressure cyclic steaming method of extraction presents unacceptable new risks.

Here are ideas suggested by 350 Santa Barbara for comments at this meeting, which is focused on improving health and safety of oil production:

  • Buffers of 2,500 feet between oil and gas operations and the places where people live, work, and learn. The health hazards are proven.  
  • No drilling through drinking water aquifers. We have an obligation to protect peoples' drinking water sources.
  • No drilling in high fire hazard zones. Wildfire risk in CA is increasingly costly, deadly and hazardous to health and safety due to climate change .
  • No new cyclic steaming. This type of drilling poses higher risks to health and safety, and greater greenhouse gas emissions.
  • No drilling that adds tanker truck traffic, as this is the least safe way to transport oil. Unacceptable risks to other drivers and area residents.
  • Should be much greater incentives against idle wells and prompt plugging of non-active wells. Permits should expire if not used, and bond requirements should be much higher given the bankruptcies of limited-liability oil companies that leave dangerous, toxic messes behind.
  • There should be monitoring and correction of methane emissions.
  • Health impacts of climate change should also be taken into account when deciding whether to permit new oil wells that contribute to the problem.
  • Opportunity to plan a just transition to clean and renewable fuels including protection of jobs.

Join us for a rally at 5 P.M. in front of the Veterans Memorial Center, 313 W. Tunnel St., Santa Maria. Stay to make comments at 6 P.M.

Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.

Thank you,

Ken Hough
SBCAN Executive Director
[email protected]