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San Benito County Supervisors adopt oil and gas safeguards

Modified: Wednesday, Jun 19th, 2013

AROMAS — The San Benito County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously passed an 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.

A key feature of the ordinance requires that property owners within one 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.

The new ordinance represents a win for local citizen action group, ACE (Aromas Cares for the Environment), which formed last year after a group of Aromas residents noticed an oil and gas prospecting company at the nearby quarry.

After noticing the San Benito County oil and gas ordinance was nearly 50 years old, ACE petitioned government to update it with adequate safeguards.

Supervisor Anthony Botelho spearheaded the Board’s task force on oil and gas and touted the grassroots effort by ACE, which was also supported in its efforts by the National Resources Defense Council, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Stanford Environmental Law Clinic.

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