Center for Biological Diversity

Media Advisory, October 12, 2016

Contacts:  Patrick Sullivan, (415) 517-9364,
Natalie Risner, (805) 441-0811

Courthouse Rally to Target Plan to Dump Oil Waste Into Underground Water

San Luis Obispo County Residents Will Gather Before
Thursday Hearing in ‘Aquifer Exemption’ Lawsuit

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif.— Wearing blue to demonstrate concern about water pollution, Price Canyon residents and members of the Center for Biological Diversity will rally tomorrow outside the Superior Court in San Luis Obispo against a plan to turn local underground water into a permanent dump site for oil waste.

The gathering will take place before a legal hearing in a lawsuit opposing this “aquifer exemption” plan. The Center sued California regulators in August for supporting efforts to exempt a Price Canyon-area aquifer from the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. If the exemption is approved, oil giant Freeport-McMoRan could drill hundreds of new wells and use the groundwater below as a permanent disposal site for waste fluid.

“As California enters the sixth year of a devastating drought, state regulators are recklessly exposing our underground water to oil-industry pollution,” said Natalie Risner, who lives near the Price Canyon aquifer. “People in Price Canyon can't afford to have their water wells contaminated by oil waste.”

What: Rally outside legal hearing in lawsuit against plan to dump oil waste into Price Canyon aquifer.

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

Where: In front of San Luis Obispo Superior Court, 1035 Palm Street, Dept. 2, San Luis Obispo.

When: Thursday, Oct. 13. Rally starts at 8:30 a.m.; legal hearing begins at 9 a.m.

The Center's lawsuit faults regulators for not analyzing the aquifer exemption plan’s risks as required by the California Environmental Quality Act. The suit asks the court to set aside the state’s approval of the aquifer exemption and halt oil-waste injection into this underground water until regulators have complied with the Act. The state’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources submitted the aquifer exemption application in February to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

There are at least 100 water-supply wells within a mile of the oilfield, and an analysis by a hydrogeologist found that Freeport failed to provide data showing those water wells wouldn’t be at risk from oil-industry pollution. Freeport hopes to drill up to 350 new wells (including injection wells) to achieve up to a tenfold increase in daily oil production.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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