SLO County supervisors deny appeal, allow 31 oil wells

October 19, 2021


San Luis Obispo County Supervisors voted 4-1 on Tuesday to deny an appeal and allow additional time for an oil company to drill the final 31 of 95 approved wells at an Arroyo Grande oilfield, with Supervisor Bruce Gibson dissenting.

In 2004, the county permitted an oil company, now known as Sentinel Peak Resources California, to install 95 additional wells, 30 injection wells and three steam generators at 1821 Price Canyon Road, approximately three miles north of Pismo Beach. At the time, Sentinel agreed to drill the 95 wells within 10 years or submit to further review and acquire a new conditional use permit after 10 years.

In 2015, the Planning Commission approved a permit for Sentinel to extend the time deadline to install the remaining 31 oil wells without the requirement to get a new conditional use permit.

The Center for Biological Diversity promptly appealed the Planning Commission’s approval because of alleged safety issues to the water quality of neighboring wells while arguing the county should have required a new conditional use permit. But before the 2015 appeal could be heard, several government agencies began looking into claims the wells were endangering the water quality of area aquifers.

On April 30, 2019, the US Environmental Protection Agency approved an aquifer exemption for the Sentinel oil fields, because there were no aquifers with wells connected to the Arroyo Grande oil field water disposal site, which allowed the Center for Biological Diversity’s appeal to move forward.

At Tuesday’s hearing on the appeal, 10 members of the public spoke against the project, primarily for ecological reasons and the goal of eliminating a dependence on fossil fuel. Another 10 people spoke in favor of the project noting the people Sentinel employs and the environmental cost of shipping oil from other countries.


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Adam Trask

America is like the blind-folded man who is walking toward the edge of a cliff. If we keep walking in that direction, we will surely fall off. Some Americans think the cliff is only five yards away. Others think it’s still another 50 or 100 yards away. But, we will reach it no matter what.

Obviously, the best thing to do is stop walking.

As for the jobs argument, only 1.6% of California jobs are in oil production. Surely those workers can find jobs involving renewable energy instead.

Jon Tatro

Wow, I usually comment by slamming government and the decision they make but I must applaud the Supervisors for their vote. That feels weird for me but good job.

kevin rise

I’m not at all surprised that you’re surprised given you only agree with what you believe in vs being open to Facts.


Well, those that are speaking against the wells and getting off fossil fuels, need to send their gasoline cars to the junk yard, and have the power disconnected from their homes.

kevin rise

Already done, batteries and solar panels and hybrid cars aren’t nearly as scary as our unstable failing climate or soon to be worse drought and additional water used in well digging and added emissions and potential well poisoning and local offgassing in AG causing cancer. My dad worked in oil north of San Miguel, and got Brain Cancer most likely associated with oil exposure, and died a sad death, a very fast sad death. Now I get paid too for my excess solar. So. If oil is so safe, go handle it, drink it, bathe in it. Apparently, science and facts are fleeting in this corrupt county. And the dollar and terrible oil jobs mean so much. Let them eat cancer.

Jorge Estrada

Thankfully there is some common sense in government and assuming that we are going to convert to electric everything while closing power plants does not equate to a lesser need for oil. Yes we all want to protect our environment yet there Is nothing electric that does not require oil at some point.


Too little too late to ease Gas prices….


Good job. Don’t give in to people’s feelings and emotions.


Right On !!! Smart move to allow the remainder of the walls to be drilled .SLO county needs to produce a product other than more regulations and overpaid government jobs with way too many govt dependent employees costing the residents more and more everyday in fees and taxes .The oil well jobs pay very high wages that does not create more cost for residents of SLO county