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Old Baldy, Canada | photo by Cameron Schaus
Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | monterey county

Controversial fracking method approved for oil drilling near Salinas River

Local groups appeal

April 2011

Venoco, an oil company based in Denver, Colorado, received approval last September from the Monterey County Zoning Administrator to drill three exploratory oil and natural gas wells west of Highway 101 in south Monterey County. The full application asks for nine test wells at three proposed sites. Each site will contain up to three exploratory oil and gas wells on a single pad and the project will require a total of 30,010 cubic yards of grading.

Led by the Ventana Conservation and Land Trust and Halt Oil Drilling Now, a group of county residents filed an appeal in October to halt the testing. The oil company plans to use a controversial technique known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking to extract the oil. Hydraulic fracturing involves injecting water, sand, and a cocktail of chemicals at high pressure into rock formations thousands of feet below the surface. The chemicals used may include barium, strontium, benzene, glycol-ethers, toluene, 2-(2-methoxyethoxy) ethanol, and nonylphenols. There are studies linking fracking to water contamination and air pollution. The test wells would be near the Salinas River and farmland.

On March 30, the Monterey Planning Commission unanimously granted a second continuance of the appeal, this time until October 26. The delay was supported by Venoco and the appellants.

The Chapter is reviewing this project as well as the high fees charged by the County to appeal Planning Commission decisions. While fees are not consistent in counties throughout California, most if not all, are lower than the Monterey County cost of $5000 The cost in San Francisco County is $500, Santa Cruz, $1560, Los Angeles, $689. Several other counties charge $1000. Monterey County’s extremely high appeal fees discourage homeowners, economic justice groups, environmentalists, and other public benefit entities from opposing projects they believe are not good for the community.

In this case the Planning Commission agreed to waive the appellants’ $5,000 fee although it was stipulated that this applied only to the current case and was not a precedent.

< back to all issues

section title

Sierra Club, Other Groups File Federal Lawsuit to Curb Unsafe Oil Trains
May 2015

Earthjustice, Sierra Club and Center of Biological Diversity File Lawsuit to Halt California Oil Injection Practices
May 2015

Sierra Club Condemns State Injection Well Practices, Calls for Investigation
February 2015

Sierra Club Submits Comment Letter to DOGGR
November 2014

Monterey County Board of Supervisors Review Fracking Regulations
September 2014

Trio Petroleum Well Permit Denied at Monterey County Planning Commission
August 2014

A Renewable Energy Economy?
August 2014

Sierra Club CA Submits Comments to DOGGR on Fracking
August 2014

Chapter Submits Comments to BLM Regarding the Dangers of Fracking
February 2014

Santa Cruz County Moves To Adopt Fracking Moratorium
December 2013

Sierra Club Opposes Weak Fracking Bill SB 4 Passed by the Assembly
September 2013

Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity Win a Major Fracking Decision for Central California
August 2013

Chapter Submits Comments to State Regulatory Board Regarding Lack of Oversight for Fracking; Public Concern Grows
May 2013

Sierra Club and CBD Win Major Fracking Lawsuit Victory
April 2013

New Sierra Club Lawsuit Aims to Protect More Public Lands from Fracking
April 2013

Sierra Club Sues California Department of Conservation Over Dangers of Fracking
October 2012

Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity Sue BLM over Oil Leases
February 2012

Club files protest to stop fracking in Monterey County
August 2011

Controversial fracking method approved for oil drilling near Salinas River
April 2011