Cat Canyon Onshore Oil Projects

  • Goal: Defeat three dirty and risky thermally-enhanced oil and gas development projects that would have more than tripled onshore oil production in Santa Barbara County
  • Year Started: 2017
  • Clients: Environmental Defense Center, Santa Barbara County Action Network (SBCAN), Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter


In the fall of 2020, after three years of hard work, EDC and our clients and partners celebrated as the third and final dangerous Cat Canyon oil project proponent withdrew its application. Just a few months prior, Santa Barbara County was facing a potential tripling of onshore oil production from projects proposed by Aera Energy, Terracore (now Cat Canyon Resources), and PetroRock. Together, the three oil projects would have brought hundreds of daily oil tanker truck transits, the loss of over 1,500 oak trees, and 1.5 million metric tons of additional CO2 emissions to the County. The three projects were also considered one of the largest environmental justice threats in Santa Barbara County’s history for the risks they posed to community health and to drinking water aquifers.

All three proposed projects would not have utilized conventional oil drilling, which would have been dangerous enough. Instead, each involved some combination of cyclic steam injection, steam flooding, and acidization for maintenance.  These techniques all require a tremendous amount of energy and water, and pose risks of well failure, air and water pollution, and have enormous climate impacts.

The close of this chapter brings an end to an incredibly dangerous and irresponsible effort to massively expand oil development during the climate crisis and represents more than three years of work from EDC, our clients, and the broad coalition of environmental, climate justice, and community groups with which we have partnered.




Printable factsheet on all three projects [English]  [Spanish].

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