Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, November 7, 2018

Contact:  Kassie Siegel, Center for Biological Diversity, (951) 961-7972,
Charles Varni, Coalition to Protect SLO County, (805) 459-6698,

Groups to Continue Fighting Oil Extraction in San Luis Obispo, Statewide

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif.— A measure to ban fracking and new oil and gas wells in San Luis Obispo County was defeated Tuesday, but its backers vowed to continue their fight to protect the community and the climate from oil extraction. Measure G did win more than 44 percent of the vote, despite supporters being outspent more than 28 to 1 by oil companies, including Chevron and Aera.

“By outspending its grassroots opposition by 28 to 1, Big Oil was able to buy a victory to keep local lands open for oil expansion and fracking,” said Charles Varni, co-chair of the Coalition to Protect San Luis Obispo County. “But the coalition is committed to continuing its fight to prevent such expansion and will be using every legal means possible in the future months to do so.” 

Oil companies poured $8 million into opposing Measure G, including more than $4 million from Chevron alone. Sentinel Peak Resources, owner and operator of the Arroyo Grande oilfield, spent $2 million. 

Measure G would have stopped a proposed expansion at the Arroyo Grande oilfield that would involve the drilling of hundreds of new wells and massively increase daily oil production.

To move forward with the expansion, Sentinel Peak Resources has submitted an application to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to exempt underground water in the Price Canyon area 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. To protect the more than 100 water-supply wells within a mile of this aquifer, the groups will continue to oppose that application.

The Center for Biological Diversity will provide support for these local efforts and will continue to push for a statewide phaseout of oil extraction in California. The Center is calling on Governor-elect Gavin Newsom to stop permitting for new oil wells and fossil fuel projects and commit to a fair plan to phase out the state’s existing oil and gas extraction, starting with wells within 2,500 feet of homes and schools.

“Oil companies spent millions of dollars on aggressive and deceptive advertising to defeat this grassroots measure,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center’s Climate Law Institute. “Gavin Newsom’s most important task as governor is to protect Californians and our climate from the oil industry, as Jerry Brown failed to do.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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