Why is it important we do something now?

A:

Over the past few years the Price Canyon oil operation has been bought and sold three times, indicative of operators looking for short-term profits.  The current owners, Sentinel Peak Resources, want to add 481 additional wells and expand the area into which they can inject toxic oil waste water.  Currently the operation has an area of 249 acres where wastewater injection wells are situated and they want to expand this to 807 acres.  In order to do this they must first get an “aquifer exemption” which would allow them to dispose of oil wastewater into a potable or beneficial water aquifer.  The Environmental Protection Agency administers the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and two State agencies, the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) and State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), are given authority to grant aquifer exemptions, if approved by the EPA.  Both DOGGR and SWRCB have recommended to the EPA that an aquifer exemption be granted for more wastewater injection wells in Price Canyon.  If the EPA approves the recommendation, then the Price Canyon owner can move forward with seeking County permits to drill 481 new wells.  This greatly increases the risk of groundwater pollution for the water wells of local residents and the larger Santa Maria groundwater basin which underlies Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach, Oceano, Pismo Beach, and the Nipomo Mesa.