Environmental Groups Continue to Oppose Aera’s Cat Canyon Oil Project

October 18, 2019

Recent Proposed Change Will Still Cause Significant Environmental Degradation and Public Health Risks

Santa Barbara County and the public are still waiting for complete information regarding Aera’s proposed change to its massive Cat Canyon oil project. Based on information released thus far, it is clear that the project will still cause unacceptable risks and impacts to the environment and public health and safety.

  • The project is still larger than the PCEC project which was denied by the County in 2016.
  • Aera’s project is one of three major oil projects that would cumulatively triple onshore oil production in the County.
  • The project will still drill through the Santa Maria Groundwater Basin, a critical source of drinking water for local communities.
  • Aera’s proposal will not reduce overall production, thus resulting in virtually the same impacts related to trucking, climate change, air quality, wildlife, and risks of spills.

“Aera, owned by Exxon and Shell, is pulling out all the stops to try to get their massively polluting project approved. Aera has been successfully sued for polluting groundwater in Kern County, and its parent companies are among the most responsible for climate-damaging emissions in the world. The impacts of this project far outweigh any benefit,” said Katie Davis, Chair of the Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter.

“We have been raising concerns about the oil industry’s impacts on our groundwater for several years,” said Ken Hough, Executive Director of Santa Barbara County Action Network. “Almost 200 wells will still cause significant and unavoidable impacts on our groundwater that were identified in the environmental impact report.”

“Aera’s proposal changes nothing and does not distract us from the real threats,” said Tara Messing, Staff Attorney for the Environmental Defense Center, which represents Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter and SBCAN on these projects. “The project must be denied to protect our air, water, and climate.”


The Environmental Defense Center, a non-profit law firm, protects and enhances the local environment through education, advocacy, and legal action and works primarily within Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties. Since 1977, EDC has empowered community-based organizations to advance environmental protection. EDC’s focus areas include protection of the Santa Barbara Channel, ensuring clean water, preserving open space and wildlife, and addressing climate and energy. Learn more about EDC at www.EnvironmentalDefenseCenter.org.

The Sierra Club is a national, environmental organization that protects communities, wild places, and the planet. The Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter serves Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. Learn more about Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter at http://lospadres.sierraclub.org/

Santa Barbara County Action Network works to promote social and economic justice, to preserve our environmental and agricultural resources, and to create sustainable communities. SB CAN advocates a holistic approach to community planning that integrates housing, open space, and transportation to meet the needs of all members of our community and future generations. Learn more at www.sbcan.org.

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