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 near the communities of Garey and Sisquoc. This area, Cat Canyon, is pristine, with agriculture and ranching. These wells would drill through the Santa Maria Valley Groundwater Basin which provides drinking 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 – totalling over 200,000 people. All proposed projects would use cyclic steam injection techniques to extract oil (and in some cases gas). Cyclic steam injection, or “steam fracking”, is a technique in which steam is pumped underground to reduce the viscosity of oil so that it can be pumped more easily. This requires a lot of freshwater resources (for the steam) and incredible energy intensity (to produce the steam).

We’re working with our coalition partners – including Food and Water Watch, Santa Barbara Standing Rock Coalition, Safe Energy Now, and Sierra Club – to ensure these projects are stopped before they can further wreck our climate and water.


These next few months 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 proposing to drill more than 230 new steam injection wells. The project would build 11 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:

AERA: AERA (owned by Shell and ExxonMobil) is proposing to drill 296 new oil wells. 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. 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. The County’s Planning and Development Energy Division (P&D) then contracts and outside group to create a draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR). This is then released for the public’s review, at which point the public may make public comment – either in person at a hearing, or by email or letter. P&D then reviews the public comments made and incorporates them to create a final EIR. Once this final 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. 


Key Dates & Updates:

ERG: P&D is currently reviewing public comments made on the draft EIR and preparing responses. They will release then a final ERI (date: TBA) before the final Planning Commission hearing on the project (also date: TBA).

AERA: County Planning and Development released AERA’s draft EIR on November 30 – there will be a public comment period from November 30, 2018 – January 28, 2019. There will be a hearing on the draft EIR as well on January 17 (more info to come).  

PetroRock: P&D released a notice of preparation of a draft EIR.



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

Safe Energy Now – 

Sierra Club –