Citadel sues county, claims state law supersedes Measure J ban

The group of supporters stands behind the speakers showing support.

Citadel Exploration has sued the county alleging that state law supersedes the Measure J ban against enhanced petroleum extraction once planned for the oil company’s Project Indian site.
Ojai-based Citadel filed the lawsuit Friday at the San Benito County Courthouse. The filing followed the company’s prior $1.2 billion claim against the county in the matter. Citadel had plans for up to 1,000 wells at the Bitterwater oilfield, but Measure J bans the extraction method—steam injections—planned for the site.
Citadel in its latest court filing argued that state law supersedes Measure J’s prohibition against steam injections— the new law also bars fracking and other extraction methods—and requested a judgement on whether the initiative, approved by 58.9 percent of voters on the November ballot, should stand.
The lawsuit contended that “regulation of down-hole operations is exclusively a State function and that the defendant lacks the power and authority to regulate down-hole operations.” The legal filing went on to claim the measure conflicts with state law.
In filing the lawsuit against the county, Citadel pointed out that supervisors voted 5-0 in June 2013 to approve steam-injection test wells at the Project Indian site.
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