Elections

If Measure G passes, here’s what would happen — and what wouldn’t

Measure G would change San Luis Obispo County land-use rules to ban oil production and certain drilling methods like fracking in unincorporated areas while allowing current oil wells to continue.

If more than 50 percent of San Luis Obispo County voters check “yes” to pass Measure G, here’s what would happen:

New oil wells could not be drilled

Measure G would prevent the drilling of new oil and gas wells on county land outside of city limits. It would prevent development of a proposed expansion of 431 new oil wells at the Arroyo Grande Oilfield operated by Sentinel Peak Resources near Pismo Beach.

Fracking would be prohibited

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, uses a high-pressure combination of water and chemicals to create fractures in underground rock formations to allow oil and gas to escape and increase production.

The use of fracking could expand in the Monterey Shale Formation — which stretches deep below the surface of much of California, including the county — but its effectiveness in producing commercially-viable oil is uncertain.

The county could be sued

Oil interests sued Monterey County when residents there passed a similar measure. It is still tied up in courts and cost the county about $1 million. A judge upheld the ban on fracking, but struck down a ban on new wells. The end results of that are not known and the language in SLO County is a little different.

Asking the Tough Questions

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Existing oil and gas operations would continue

The text of the measure explicitly states that existing oil and gas operations could continue and routine maintenance would be allowed.

Oil fields could not expand, however, meaning that oil production would fade out and eventually shutdown once commercially-viable oil is no longer obtainable.

In 2017, there were 216 active wells in the county, according to the state Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources.

Those wells produced 604,308 barrels of oil, less than half a percent of what was produced in the entire state of California, according to state data.

Monica Vaughan: 805-781-7930; @MonicaLVaughan
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