Earthquake Worries

Increased seismic activity is only one of many inevitable dangers from the expansion of oil drilling in the Santa Maria Valley.

ERG, Aera, and PetroRock all intend to use cyclic steam injection to pull the heavy, thick crude from the ground, which requires the injection of chemicals and wastewater. Wastewater injections are considered to be responsible for an increase in earthquakes, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Santa Barbara County has an estimated 100 to 200 of these wastewater injection sites.

From 2000-2012, the Santa Maria area averaged fewer than two earthquakes a year. Yet in 2013 alone, there were 58 quakes recorded in that same area. This major increase correlates with close proximity to wastewater-injected areas. Quake distribution is particularly dense in oil-active Cat Canyon, Orcutt, Casmalia, and south Santa Maria.

In its environmental report, ERG Resources itself refers to the geological hazards that can trigger landslides and seismic activity during construction and drilling. Such activity can also trigger accelerated soil erosion and cause damage to project structures, resulting in injury and death of oil workers, who will be on the front lines of these projects. ERG tempts us to say yes to their project by boasting of the number of jobs they will create; but it is those very workers and the community who will suffer — not the CEO of ERG.

There is no mitigation for these hazards.


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