Templeton Guide|Sunday, July 22, 2018
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More than 20,000 signatures turned in to qualify fracking, oil expansion ban initiative 

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—On Tuesday, on behalf of over 20,000 SLO County Registered Voters and the Coalition to Protect San Luis Obispo County, Coalition Co-Chairs Charles Varni and Natalie Risner delivered the needed signatures to the SLO County Clerk to qualify the environmental protection measure on the November 2018 ballot.

“The 20,000 San Luis Obispo County registered voters who signed the initiative have created a historic opportunity for us all in November of 2018,” said Charles Varni. “They have stated what they want and, in the process, have presented us with a concrete option which bans new oil wells in the county, and will as a result help protect our precious groundwater resources from contamination by oilfield waste, and prevent fracking on our farms, ranges, and oak woodlands.”

The initiative amends the county’s General Plan, Local Coastal Program and County Code to prohibit using land in the county’s unincorporated areas for oil well stimulation treatments like fracking and acidizing. It would also prohibit new oil and gas well drilling land uses on unincorporated county lands. Under the initiative, existing oil and gas land uses would be allowed to continue, but not expand. The initiative also protects vested rights and allows the county to grant limited exceptions to avoid taking private property.

The initiative is sponsored by the Coalition to Protect San Luis Obispo County, a group of local volunteers working to protect local water, air and soil from pollution while encouraging a shift toward renewable energy, as called for in the county’s General Plan.

Proponents included a provision in the initiative to prohibit using unincorporated county land for oil well stimulation treatments like fracking and acidizing because the Monterey Shale formation underlies parts of San Luis Obispo County. Oil companies have identified this formation as a likely target for aggressive extraction techniques. Among other risks, fracking requires transportation and storage of hazardous chemicals, generates large amounts of toxic wastewater, and has been tied to increased seismic activity in other parts of the country.

To learn more, read the initiative, or to volunteer your time to help – visit http://protectslocounty.org

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