Blowouts Happen

Aera Energy, one of three oil companies proposing to revamp oil production near Santa Maria, touts using “best [environmental] practices.” Unfortunately accidents happen all too often.

This is why I am employed as a geologist (MS) in the $30 billion per year Environmental Consulting Industry where 90 percent of my job consists of monitoring and cleaning up contaminated groundwater and soil from “accidental” leaks, spills, and improper disposal of oil, gas, and other toxic chemicals.

Yes, there are a couple thousand feet of sediment between the oil bearing rock and the Santa Maria groundwater basin; however, blowouts can happen anywhere along the 6,000 feet of well casing. In addition, geologic pathways (cracks) can form both above and below the oil. Both of these scenarios would be heightened by Aera’s plan to use high pressure steam injection drilling methods and by utilizing old wells whose casings are even more likely to fail.

These local environmental effects sit alongside the global effects of climate change in which the combustion of fossil fuels adds greenhouse gases to the atmosphere which unnaturally heats our planet.

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill which gave birth to the modern environmental movement. With renewables on the rise and the electric vehicle industry growing by over 50 percent per year, we don’t need this oil.

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Visit to read AERA’s DEIR and send comments on this to by January 28.

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