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Santa barbara county: working to establish a
reGulatory model

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In 2010, the practice of fracking became much better known due to the release of Gasland, an independent film by Josh Fox that chronicled a trail of controversy wherever the practice has been conducted, from rural communities of Pennsylvania, to mountain towns of Colorado, to densely populated urban areas within the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolis.  The profile of fracking was raised further early in 2011, when the New York Times published a series of articles by reporter Ian Urbina chronicling lax regulation and environmental problems at fracking sites throughout the country.

As public knowledge of fracking increased, EDC client groups - including Carpinteria Valley Association and Get Oil Out! - began inquiring whether the practice was being utilized in EDC’s service area, but were assured by industry and regulators that it was not.  In early May, 2011, this all changed when it was discovered that Venoco, Inc. had hydraulically fractured two oil wells near the community of Los Alamos in northern Santa Barbara County without first obtaining appropriate permits, or even notifying community residents or County regulators.   

In the wake of this discovery, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors initiated a series of meetings to address the regulation of fracking in the County.  These meetings culminated with a unanimous 5-0 vote by the Supervisors on September 20, 2011, directing County staff to process a clarifying amendment to the County's Land Use and Development Code (LUDC) reaffirming that all fracking operations require discretionary permits and thus full analysis of potential environmental and public health impacts of such operations under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  EDC, on behalf of its clients Carpinteria Valley Association, Get Oil Out!, Santa Barbara County Action Network, and Los Padres Sierra Club, advocated for strong environmental and public health protections throughout the Board’s process, and is looking to replicate those efforts in Ventura and San Luis Obispo Counties.

KCLU Sept. 1, 2011 Story

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