Oppose ERG oil project with emails to Planning Commission

We need your support now to encourage the County Planning Commission not to certify the Final EIR for ERG’s Cat Canyon oil project, which would add nearly 200 new cyclic-steamed oil wells in Cat Canyon, southeast of Santa Maria, and to deny the project.

We urge you to send an email before the noon, March 25 deadline for items to be considered at the March 27 Planning Commission hearing at 9 a.m. in Santa Maria. We also encourage you to attend the March 27 hearing. The commission does not plan to accept further public testimony at this meeting, but expects to at future meetings.

This meeting follows the March 13 meeting when a large crowd of opponents of ERG's oil project rallied at 8:30 a.m. before the Planning Commission's hearing in Santa Maria. After 4½ hours of public testimony, which was more than 80 percent against the project, the Commission continued the item to its March 27 meeting, at which they will question staff on the adequacy of the Final EIR and possibly begin their deliberations.

Opponents are not planning a rally before this meeting, but rather we are encouraging emails to be sent to the Commission. We also encourage attendance at the meeting, so the Commissioners will know we are concerned and listening to their questions and deliberations.

Below are some points drafted by SBCAN to include in an email to the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission. Below that are additional points you could include in the email, or which could be brought up at a future time. The more you can personalize your input the better, but the total volume of email and testimony from volunteers and interested members of the community like you usually has great impact on the decision makers.

Here is a sample email you can send or personalize:

To: [email protected]

Re: March 27 Planning Commission Hearing on ERG Oil Project

Chair Parke and Commissioners,

As you begin asking questions and deliberating on the questions of whether to certify the FEIR for ERG’s project and whether to approve or deny the project, please consider these points:

In light of the weak statement of overriding considerations, the Class 1 significant and unavoidable impacts stated in the FEIR ought to be sufficient reasons to deny the project, without certifying the inadequate FEIR.

At the conclusion of your last meeting you directed staff to carefully analyze the Environmental Defense Center’s letter and be prepared to address the issues raised in it. In the 112 pages of the letter there are hundreds of significant issues that you should address.

Please be sure to carefully consider all of the environmental impacts deemed by the FEIR not to be Class 1, but which EDC (and others, including SBCAN) argued should be Class 1:

  • trucking emissions
  • mortality on endangered wildlife, Impacts BIO 2 through 7 should all be Class 1
  • geological impacts with oil and water being extracted from one formation and wastewater injected into another
  • wildfire impacts exacerbated by climate change
  • additional noise impacts related to the number of well work-overs not being considered
  • the impact on groundwater quality due to cyclic-steam injection and re-injection of toxic produced wastewater.

Also, please carefully consider all of the Project’s inconsistencies with the County’s Comprehensive Plan as detailed by EDC, including tanker trucks travelling too close to residences, as well as protection of oak trees.

The FEIR can’t be certified as is. Once corrected it should be clear to all that the Class 1 impacts far outweigh any benefits.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter.


Also, here are some additional points provided by The Sierra Club, Los Padres Chapter that you might use in correspondence with the Planning Commission or at a future hearing:

  • The Project’s Final Environmental Impact Report fails to accurately inform the public of the scope and magnitude of the Project and fails to identify many significant impacts that remain unknown and unmitigated.
  • Spills of oil and wastewater will threaten water quality and destroy sensitive wildlife habitat.
  • The Project will require millions of gallons of local freshwater for drilling, construction, and operations.
  • Over 150 oil tanker trucks pose serious risks to public safety and degrade our roads.
  • The project will impact 99 protected species that occur onsite.
  • This project is near an elementary school and would cause noise and health dangers.
  • ERG has caused multiple fires and introducing more fire hazards in a high fire hazard area is the wrong choice -- as fire risk is increasing due to climate change.
  • Cyclic steam injection is a highly carbon-intensive method of oil extraction that will increase air emissions and contribute to climate change -- just as we should be transitioning away from fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable energy instead.

Thanks for your support and please call or write to me if you have questions or concerns.

Ken Hough

SBCAN Executive Director

[email protected]

(805) 563-0463