Center for Biological Diversity

Media Advisory, November 12, 2015

Contact: Patrick Sullivan, (415) 517-9364,

San Luis Obispo Residents to Protest Freeport-McMoRan's Oil-drilling Plan

Today's Rally Urges Planning Commission to Reject Drilling to Protect Water Wells

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif.— Price Canyon-area residents and members of the Center for Biological Diversity will rally today outside a San Luis Obispo Planning Commission meeting against an oil company’s plan to drill dozens of new wells in the Arroyo Grande Oil Field.

The Planning Commission will likely make a decision today on Freeport-McMoRan’s request for permission to drill 31 new oil wells. Protesters want the commission to deny the request because oilfield pollution could threaten underground water supplies.

There are at least 100 water-supply wells within a mile of the oilfield, and a hydrogeologist has told county planners that Freeport failed to provide data showing the water wells wouldn’t be at risk of oilfield pollution.

“County planners must protect water supplies by denying Freeport’s reckless request to drill more oil wells without studying pollution risks,” said Maya Golden-Krasner, an attorney with the Center. “People in Price Canyon don’t deserve to have their water wells contaminated by the oil industry.”

What: Rally urging Planning Commission to halt Freeport’s plan to drill dozens of new oil wells near local water supplies

Who: Price Canyon residents and members of the Center for Biological Diversity

Where: In front of a Planning Commission meeting at the Board of Supervisors Chambers at the County Government Center, 1055 Monterey Street, San Luis Obispo

When: Thursday, Nov. 12. Rally starts at 12:30 p.m. The Planning Commission is likely to hear Freeport’s oil-drilling item between 10:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. and continue after the lunch break at 1:30.  

The original conditional-use permit for this oil-drilling project was issued 10 years ago. The company did not finish building all the wells in that original permit, and is asking for three additional years to drill them without conducting a new environmental study.

Freeport’s request for a permit extension relies on a 10-year-old environmental assessment that spent one paragraph discussing risks to water wells based on extremely limited data. The assessment includes no analysis of impacts to drinking water wells on adjacent properties.

In a letter to county planners, certified professional hydrogeologist Matt Hagemann says the company has failed to provide basic information needed to allow commissioners to properly evaluate threats to surrounding groundwater.

These 31 wells are part of a larger Freeport expansion project. Freeport hopes to drill up to 350 new wells, including injection wells of the kind that have dumped oil waste into protected underground water across the state, to achieve up to a 10-fold increase in daily oil production.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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