ERG Oil sold to TerraCore. Hearings postponed until a revised plan prepared for S.B. County.

Oil spills and leakages happen.  To report a suspected oil spill, immediately call the State Warning Center 1-800-424-8802, then notify Channelkeeper at 805-563-3377.  In an emergency, call 911.  

A Denver, Colorado company has purchased ERG in August 2019.  ERG is the company that has had enormous and continued resistance by local residents in their quest to get approval from Santa Barbara County to  drill dozens of new oil wells in Cat Canyon over the Santa Maria water basin.

Scheduled hearings will be rescheduled after TerraCore has prepared their plans to use more solar to extract oil, but no plans revealed to abandon the project altogether to drill over the aquifer.

Santa Maria Times:

“A memo from the Planning & Development Department said a new notice of the project hearing will be announced once a date is established.

The memo also said a report addressing any proposed modifications to the project and revisions to the environmental impact report, as well as responses to commissioners’ requests for information, will be provided and available to the public before the date of the continued hearing.

ERG — now TerraCore — is  proposing to add 187 new steam-injected oil and gas wells and two new steam generators on about 75 acres of the company’s 8,054-acre property in West Cat Canyon south of Santa Maria.”

Full article:

HISTORY OF ERG vs. SANTA BARBARA COUNTY prior to TerraCore purchasing ERG:

This project would double the county’s current onshore oil production and is starkly at odds with our county’s Climate Action Plan goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the county by 50% by 2030.  

  • It would drill through the Santa Maria Valley groundwater basin, which provides clean drinking water for residents and agriculture. Well castings can and do fail, and surface spills are inevitable, thus risking our county’s largest clean water source. ERG has already spilled more than any other onshore oil company since 2010. 
  • The crude oil in Cat Canyon is so thick that ERG needs to truck in a lighter crude from Kern County to mix with it, and then truck the combined crude back out again to a pump station – requiring 156 one-way truck trips every day of light and blended crude oil. 
  • Trucks are the least safe way to transport oil, and accidents can shut down roads for extended periods of time. The project creates roadway hazards by adding oil tanker trucks to the 101, a critical transportation corridor for our region.
  • This project represents an industrial expansion in a high fire hazard area. ERG has had 34 fire department violations over the past four years and there have been recent fires on their site. This is an unacceptable risk given ever-increasing wildfire risk due to climate change.
  • ERG’s natural gas pipeline, with a capacity greater than all residential natural gas usage in the county, poses an explosion risk along the 101 where a gas leak and roadway spark could trigger a vapor cloud fire. 
  • The project presents a financial risk to the county. When a spill, fire or other disaster occurs, companies often leave taxpayers and counties on the hook. ERG is in bankruptcy, making the chances of them paying for damages highly unlikely.  They have even failed to pay property taxes. In County Council’s 2017-19 budget request, they reported that ERG owed the county $14 million in back taxes.



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Archived videos of prior S.B. County hearings:

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Contact Santa Barbara Planning Commissioners!!

**** Phone or Email comments on ERG’s 233 new steam injection wells to:

Deputy Director: John Zorovich/Energy, Minerals & Compliance
Supervising Planner: Errin Briggs 805-568—2047
Staff Contact: Nancy Minick 805-884-8050
Staff Emails:

 Also, contact our elected SB County Board of Supervisors:


NO drilling! Reject proposals by oil companies AERA, ERG (currently in bankruptcy) and PetroRock.  These projects would drill through the Santa Maria Valley Groundwater Basin, which provides clean drinking water to 12 cities and over 200,000 people. We need to make sure our county votes against these proposals

Steam Injection to extract oil is what is happening at Orcutt Hill and several other Orcutt sites on the east side of 101 Freeway mixed in with agriculture land. And now big oil company ERG wants to develop even further in Cat Canyon, OVER THE SANTA MARIA WATER AQUIFER. Let the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission know we expect them to do their jobs for the community and deny ERG’s request and prevent them from steam injecting through our water table!!

Pressurized steam is injected into the oil-bearing zone over several days, creating fissures for the hot steam to reach the thick crude oil and soften it.
Steaming ends and as the heated oil becomes more mobile, it is drawn up through the same well system. As more and more oil is taken out of the ground, support for the surface substrate weakens, causing land around the well to sink.


Prior Events and posts History:


The ORCUTT oil field was identified as a high priority study area for the RMP (Regional Monitoring Program) because relatively large volumes of fluid have been injected into the ground for enhanced oil recovery water disposal.  
Write your comments to the BLM, Bureau of Land Management, in Bakersfield:
(Deadline to respond by email was was June 10, 2019.)
 Write a letter:
3801 Pegasus Dr, Bakersfield, CA 93308
Phone:  (661)391-6000

Copy and paste Letter:

Hello, I am a resident of Santa Maria Valley, in Santa Barbara County, and I am deeply concerned about fracking and oil exploration near my community because of the disturbance of nature and contamination.   Oil companies are using chemicals and groundwater to extract fossils that can contaminate the earth’s natural resources. This process would misuse fresh water and  jeopardize aquifers.  Also, fuel adds to the carbon emissions in our atmosphere at a time when we should be focusing on decreasing emissions.
Additionally, the draft EIS is inadequate because it fails to adequately evaluate the impact of fracking on climate change.
At the conclusion of the analysis, I hope you will amend your management plan to exclude, or place restrictions on, parcels offered for oil leasing and fracking, reflective of the risks and impacts they pose to public health and the environment. In addition, I hope that you will close lands to leasing and fracking that are on or adjacent to schools, national forests, monuments, and refuges to better protect children and the resources that make these places so treasured by the public.
Thank you for taking my concerns into consideration.
(Name and address)

Letter #2 to CA Dept of Conservation

(Deadline to comment June 20, 2019)  Write or email anyway.
Below is an example comment, COPY AND PASTE  on the email to  Sacramento, California Department of Conservation (DOGGR):

OR write to the Orcutt Office, or make an appointment:  

5075 S Bradley Rd # 221, Santa Maria, CA 93455  Phone (805) 937-7246.

Copy and paste Letter:
NO EXEMPTIONS FOR OIL COMPANIES.  Santa Maria Valley communities depend heavily on groundwater–more so than other cities with bigger budgets.  Much of the area’s drinkable and usable water comes from an underground water basin (aquifer), where just a single spill or leak could potentially contaminate drinking water for over 100,000 residents in the Santa Maria Valley–affecting already disadvantaged community members disproportionately.
Federal laws are meant to protect our aquifer because of its potential as a drinking water source.  But, big oil and gas companies are requesting an exemption from the law and have asked California to consider a proposal to allow the injection of waste associated with hundreds of new oil and gas wells DIRECTLY INTO THE SANTA MARIA AQUIFER.

(Name and address)


RALLY and public forum was held June 5, 2019, 3 pm, Veterans Memorial Community Center, 313 W. Tunnell Street, SM 93458.  Public comments 4-7 pm.



Another SB County Planning Commission public hearing was held May 29, 2019.

Prior Hearings:

On Wednesday, March 13 at 9:00AM, the Santa Barbara Planning Commission held a public hearing on ERG’s Project.  Although the Planning Commission shamefully chose to hold the hearing during working hours, 100 residents attended the hearing and expressed, once again, all of the multiple reasons why this project SHOULD NOT BE APPROVED.  WE MUST KEEP TELLING THEM.  Oil Companies have 100 year plans, and will never stop pushing their destructive agenda… AND WE MUST NOT STOP EITHER!  Tell the Planning Commission to deny the Project and protect our climate, air quality, water resources, and public health.  ERG is proposing to drill dozens of new thermally enhanced, steam injection oil wells, producing thousands of barrels of oil per day.  

This project is only 1900 feet from an elementary school and residences. It would increase air pollution, damage residents’ health, degrade water quality and ecosystems, generate traffic and 24/7 light and noise pollution, and lock in dirty fossil fuel production for decades to come – at a time when climate reports warn we need to accelerate a transition to cleaner sources of energy. 





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