Environment

Supervisor Arnold defends plan to drill new oil well at Carrizo Plain National Monument

Catch the ‘fleeting beauty’ of the Carrizo Plain wildflowers

The wildflowers are in bloom in San Luis Obispo County - especially along Highway 58 near the Carrizo Plain National Monument. The especially wet winter has led to an explosion of wildflowers along the Central Coast. The 2017 season is expected to
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The wildflowers are in bloom in San Luis Obispo County - especially along Highway 58 near the Carrizo Plain National Monument. The especially wet winter has led to an explosion of wildflowers along the Central Coast. The 2017 season is expected to

County Supervisor Debbie Arnold defended new drilling at an oil well in the Carrizo Plain National Monument on Tuesday, saying is not outside the monument's management plan and "it's a very small footprint."

She discussed the project that was recently approved by the Bureau of Land Management under the Interior Department during a San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday in response to public comments on the issue.

"The decision reaches monument objectives," said Arnold, whose district includes part of the Carrizo Plain. She is a member of the national monument's advisory committee.

Of the monument's 246,000 acres, she said, the well site is only a half-acre, or ".0002 percent of the total acreage of the monument."

There's "nothing extraordinary about that," she said.

Arnold_Debbie_2012
Debbie Arnold David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

The plan calls for new drilling at an existing well that hasn't produced oil for decades; it's the first well the Interior Department approved in the monument since it was established in 2001. Existing oil wells were grandfathered in when the monument was established by President Bill Clinton.

The new drilling proposed by E&B Natural Resources Management Corp. is on an existing lease, with an existing pad and an existing road on the west side of Caliente Mountain.

Environmental groups appealed the Trump administration decision, saying that the project falls short of the high environmental standards required to drill on protected lands.

Monica Vaughan: 805-781-7930; @MonicaLVaughan

Oil lease Carrizo Plain.jpg
Near the Caliente Mountains in the Carrizo Plain National Monument. Courtesy Los Padres ForestWatch

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