Increased seismic activity is only one of many inevitable dangers
from the expansion of oil drilling in the Santa Maria Valley.
ERG, Aera, and PetroRock all intend to use cyclic steam injection
to pull the heavy, thick crude from the ground, which requires the injection of
chemicals and wastewater. Wastewater injections are considered to be
responsible for an increase in earthquakes, according to the United States Geological
Survey (USGS). Santa Barbara County has an estimated 100 to 200 of these
wastewater injection sites.
From 2000-2012, the Santa Maria area averaged fewer than two
earthquakes a year. Yet in 2013 alone, there were 58 quakes recorded in that
same area. This major increase correlates with close proximity to
wastewater-injected areas. Quake distribution
is particularly dense in oil-active Cat Canyon, Orcutt, Casmalia, and south
In its environmental report, ERG Resources itself refers to
the geological hazards that can trigger landslides and seismic activity during
construction and drilling. Such activity can also trigger accelerated soil
erosion and cause damage to project structures, resulting in injury and death
of oil workers, who will be on the front lines of these projects. ERG tempts us
to say yes to their project by boasting of the number of jobs they will create;
but it is those very workers and the community who will suffer — not the CEO of
There is no mitigation for these hazards.