Center for Biological Diversity

Media Advisory, August 22, 2018

Contacts:  Maya Golden-Krasner, Center for Biological Diversity, (213) 785-5402,
Natalie Risner, Coalition to Protect San Luis Obispo County, (805) 441-0811,

Rally to Oppose Toxic Oil-waste Dumping in San Luis Obispo Aquifer

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif.— San Luis Obispo residents and environmental advocates will hold a rally Thursday before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s workshop on the proposed Arroyo Grande oilfield aquifer exemption.

Oil company Sentinel Peak Resources is seeking to exempt underground water in the Price Canyon area of San Luis Obispo County from protection under the Safe Water Drinking Act. This would allow the company to turn the aquifer into a permanent disposal site for oil-waste fluid. There are at least 100 water-supply wells for drinking water and crop irrigation within a mile of this aquifer.

“I don’t want the aquifer next to my home and my community to become a toxic oil-waste dump,” said Natalie Risner, a Price Canyon resident and co-chair of the Coalition to Protect San Luis Obispo County. “If our wells become polluted with dangerous chemicals like benzene, we have no other water source to rely on.”

“This community’s air and water have already been compromised by heavy oil-industry activity,” said Maya Golden-Krasner, senior attorney and deputy director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “The people of San Luis Obispo shouldn’t have to sacrifice more of their health and environment just to boost an oil company’s bottom line.”

What: Rally to oppose the Arroyo Grande oilfield aquifer exemption application.

When: Thursday, Aug. 23. Rally starts at 4:30 p.m. before 5 p.m. hearing begins.

Where: Vet’s Hall, 801 Grand Avenue, San Luis Obispo

Who: Concerned San Luis Obispo residents, members of the Coalition to Protect San Luis Obispo County, Center for Biological Diversity senior attorney Maya Golden-Krasner and Center for Biological Diversity scientist Dr. John Fleming.

Freeport-McMoRan, which owned the Arroyo Grande oilfield before selling it to Sentinel Peak Resources, submitted the aquifer exemption application in 2015. California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources approved the application and submitted it to the U.S. EPA in February 2016 for final approval.

If the EPA approves the application, Sentinel could move forward with plans to drill hundreds of new wells and massively increase daily oil production.

A Center analysis has identified serious flaws in the aquifer exemption application. For example, it fails to mention the company’s plans to expand operations in the oilfield. It also does not include any analysis of what will happen to the aquifer if that expansion proceeds — including possible changes in pressures underground and the potential for inducing fractures that could transport pollution to other water sources.

Oil-waste fluid can contain high levels of benzene and other cancer-causing chemicals.

The EPA’s hearing comes after a coalition of concerned San Luis Obispo County residents put an initiative on the November ballot to protect air and water from oil-industry pollution. If passed, Measure G will ban hydraulic fracturing and drilling new oil and gas wells in the county.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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