Opinion » Letters

We need to protect what we have left

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Thank you for Camillia Lanham’s article about federal environmental officials raising major questions about Freeport McMoRan’s effort to have a San Luis Obispo County aquifer exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act (May 12, “EPA wants more data in Freeport McMoRan aquifer exemption”). 

Neighbors of the Arroyo Grande oil field have been asking similar questions as we wait for authorities to decide the fate of our water in Edna Valley. We’ve been asking since last September, when the state’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) held a public hearing where hundreds of residents showed up to express concern for their water wells. 

We now know that DOGGR—the regulatory entity responsible for keeping the oil industry from polluting our water—has been asleep at the wheel. These state officials allowed the oil industry to drill illegally into protected aquifers in Arroyo Grande and across the state, injecting “produced water” into waste disposal wells and using water-intensive cyclic steam and steam flood injection wells outside the boundaries where they’re supposed to operate. 

There are at least 100 domestic water wells within a mile of this oil field. Neighbors are worried. 

They’re talking about wells drying up and water levels dropping. And they are increasingly standing together to demand that regulators protect their water. 

We are in an extreme drought with no end in sight. We must protect the water we do have. Sacrificing our water to the oil industry as a trash dump for oil waste is not what I want for San Luis Obispo. 

-- Natalie Risner - Price Canyon

-- Natalie Risner - Price Canyon

-- Natalie Risner - Price Canyon

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