Stop 750+ New Oil Wells in Santa Barbara County

Currently, three companies – ERG, AERA, and Petro Rock – are collectively proposing to drill over 750 new oil wells in Northern Santa Barbara County. These wells would drill through the Santa Maria Valley Groundwater Basin which provides drinking water to over 200,000 people. These next few weeks are a crucial time to get to work. (See the next section for an overview of the timeline of these projects).

ERG: The Texas-based ERG Operating Company is also proposing to drill more than 230 new steam injection wells over the Santa Maria groundwater basin near the communities of Garey and Sisquoc. The project would build 10 new drilling pads, expand 91 current pads, and require nine processing facilities and equipment areas. ERG is in currently in bankruptcy and trying to sell off its California operations, including the proposed Cat Canyon project. The outcome of this reorganization would impact whether ERG or another company follows through on the current drilling proposal. For more information, visit the County’s Planning and Development Page:

Tentative Vote Date: July 19th

Public Review Period: June 4 – July 19th

AERA: AERA (owned by Shell and ExxonMobil) is proposing to drill 296 new oil wells in Cat Canyon, a pristine area in the northern part of Santa Barbara County. The company would use the energy-intensive practices of cyclic steam injection — also known as “steam fracking”— to extract up to 10,000 barrels of oil per day. The oil wells would pierce the aquifer in the Santa Maria groundwater basin that provides water to more than 12 cities, including Santa Maria, Orcutt and Guadalupe, thousands of businesses, our local wine industry and hundreds of square miles of agriculture. For more information, visit the County’s Planning and Development Page:


PetroRock: PetroRock, the third company, is proposing to drill 230 new cyclic steam injection wells in Cat Canyon. For more information, visit the County’s Planning and Development Page:


We’d love for you to join us:

1 – If you haven’t yet, please be sure to fill out this petition against the new oil wells and in support of an ordinance against any new oil drilling in this county. Then, share it with your networks!

2- Volunteer with us! Click here to sign up.


Project Timeline and Approval Process:

The County’s Board of Supervisors holds the final vote for any new development of oil and gas infrastructure in the county. The Board – comprised of 5 members, representing the 5 districts in the county – requires a simple majority to pass a project (at least 3 in favor).

To be approved, each company submits a project proposal to the County, and then submits an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to the County’s Planning and Development Energy Division for public review. Once the EIR is submitted, the clock starts ticking. It begins a 45-day period of public review and comment, during which public hearings may be held, and the public is encouraged to contact their supervisor and the Energy Division’s office with their input. After this 45 day period, the supervisors vote. Therefore, we will only find out the dates of votes once the EIRs are submitted.


Key Dates:

PetroRock Scoping Meeting: Monday June 18th, 6:00PM @ Centeno Bldg in Santa Maria –  511 Lakeside Pkwy, Santa Maria, CA 93455.

Join us to learn more about PetroRock’s project and participate in public comment to voice any concerns with new oil development.

Community Forum: Sunday June 24th, 3:00PM @ Unitarian Society of SB, 1535 Santa Barbara St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101.

Attend to learn more about the three oil projects being proposed, about oil production in the whole of the county, and to prepare for the ERG hearing the following evening.

ERG Draft EIR public hearing: Monday June 25th, 6:00PM @ Centeno Bldg in Santa Maria –  511 Lakeside Pkwy, Santa Maria, CA 93455.

Join us to participate in public comment in preparation for vote.

ERG Vote (Board of Supervisors): [TENTATIVE DATE] – July 19th


To learn more, visit some of our partner organization’s webpages:

Safe Energy Now – 

Sierra Club –