Commentary: Measure G safeguards our water

Yes on Measure G (YMG) volunteers collected over 2,000 signatures in the North County and 20,473 countywide in order to get this measure on the ballot in November. My signatures, collected mostly at the Templeton Farmer’s Market, found the majority of folks eager to sign on to “no new oil wells or fracking in SLO County.”

The Oil Gas Shutdown group opposing YMG is funded by California Resources Corp. They argue Yes on MG is a call for “complete shutdown” of all gas production in SLO County with a, “a loss of more than 200 jobs, loss of revenues for local schools, first responders and public programs.” All of this is untrue. Existing oil wells would continue production under YMG — there will be no loss of jobs or revenues for the county.

California Resources Corporation (CRC) is a publicly traded oil and natural gas exploration and production company in California. CRC operates exclusively within the State of California, applying complementary and integrated infrastructure to gather, process and market oil production with a strategy to maximize shareholder returns by accelerating oil production.

Yes on Measure G would:

• Protect our water by limiting the expansion of unwanted oil field waste injection into local aquifers by blocking new wells.

• Ban fracking and acidification well-stimulation.

• Not impact local fuel prices — oil from SLO County goes to Bay Area refineries and is sold in international markets.

• Preserve current oilfield jobs, taxes and existing oil production of hundreds of active wells.

Yes on MG presents facts in consideration of our finite water supply. NMG uses misinformation, manipulating a scenario into the future touting, as fact, YMG will shut down oil wells. These lies mislead the public justifying continued exploration of oil in our county and perhaps fracking.

In North County, where water is scarce and agriculture demands are growing, new oil exploration and production would place unwanted pressure on an already delimited groundwater basin supply and threaten its quality. An Aug. 8 new story said, “Trump administration to open 1.6 acres (of California public land including SLO County) to fracking.” We in North County see Yes on MG as a safeguard for our county’s groundwater sustainability. There is no fracking in our county now and we want to keep it that way.

Oil extraction depletes 19 gallons of water for every 1 gallon of oil extracted and is then injected, with oil field residue, back into water aquifers in south county. Proposed expansion in Arroyo Grande by another 481 oil wells, risks our precious water resources, tourism industry, agriculture, and residential home values. There are 100 water-supply wells for drinking water and agricultural use within one mile of proposed oil well expansion.

Oil extraction in SLO County is currently focused in the Price Canyon region east of Pismo Beach. The oil in this area is embedded in sand formations 500-1,500 feet underground where steam is injected to heat the heavy, thick crude oil then pumped to the surface. Much deeper (6,000-15,000 feet) under much of our County (and Southern California) lies the Monterey shale formation, one of the largest oil reserves in the US. This formation would need to be fracked in order to recover oil.

Extraction practices, like steam injection, fracking, use of chemicals, acids, and gasses, pose serious threats to our surface and groundwater. Earthquakes induced by these activities are a particular concern for Californians because of our state’s high seismic activity and dense network of faults.

I encourage everyone to vote Yes on Measure G in the November 2018 election. YMG’s mission is to protect SLO County’s precious water, agricultural lands, environmental quality, rural character, beaches, and diverse economy through the promotion of renewable energy versus new oil wells or fracking in the county’s unincorporated areas.

SLO County has a vibrant and diverse economy with one of the largest segments being tourism accounting for 13 percent of county jobs and generating $1.6 billion in revenues in 2016.  Tourism generated $62 million in tax revenue and agriculture $915 million. Other major sectors like manufacturing, high tech, education, and healthcare contribute billions of dollars. In contrast, according to the oil industry’s Institute for Applied Economics, SLO County jobs in the oil extraction sector contributed about $13 million in 2012. State-wide, such jobs have been declining in the intervening years.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will soon rule on whether or not to approve an aquifer exemption for unincorporated lands in Arroyo Grande’s oil fields to expand with 481 new oil wells. Sentinel Peak Resources, who wants to drill the new wells, must have this “aquifer exemption” from the EPA in order to expand their fields by 481 wells. This would be a huge expansion and giveaway of a potential source of drinking water. All the more important to have Measure G blocking this expansion.

I want voters to know Measure G is an important initiative ensuring our county environment, enjoyed by locals and tourist, will not be disrupted by increased oil production and fracking. I invite you to go to the MG website, for more information.


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