Maureen Cain contributed to this article.
Aromas, Calif. -‐ The San Benito County Board of Supervisors today unanimously passed a groundbreaking oil and gas ordinance that creates a framework for close examination of every oil and gas extraction project proposed in the county — whether traditional drilling, fracking, acid extraction, steam injection or other methods.
“The victory this morning is the fruit of nearly a year of work by the Aromas community,” said Maureen Cain, spokesperson for Aromas Cares for Our Environment. A key feature of the ordinance requires that property owners within 1 mile of a proposed drilling site receive notice and that a 500-‐foot buffer zone is required between drilling sites and homes, public roads, and businesses. Applicants for oil and gas extraction must submit a detailed drilling plan, including the method of extraction, sources of water, geological information, disposal of waste products, details about the local watershed, gas emissions, and a plan for spill prevention. Pat Lerman, a member of the ACE Coordinating Committee said,
“Once the thumper trucks rolled into town last June looking for oil and gas deposits, we quickly formed ACE to investigate. We discovered that the San Benito County oil and gas ordinance was nearly 50 years old and did not provide safeguards for our community’s water, for protection of our air, roads and rural way of life.”
According to chair of the San Benito County Board of Supervisors, Anthony Botelho, who spearheaded the Board’s task force on oil and gas, “Local government has a responsibility to protect our residents, our quality of life and the environment. This revised ordinance is a major step toward achieving that goal. The grassroots effort by ACE shows that the local government process works.” ACE was supported in its efforts by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Stanford Environmental Law Clinic.
“Today’s vote is a huge victory for communities across the state that are concerned that fracking is running amok,” said Damon Nagami, director of NRDC’s California ecosystems project. “The majority of Californians want the oil and gas industry to comply with common sense regulations to protect public health and our drinking water sources. “