Board to consider firm for oil suit, soliciting donations

In this 2008 file photo, a lone oil drill operates in the hills of Bitterwater in San Benito County.

Citadel Exploration has sued the county alleging that state law supersedes the ban against enhanced petroleum extraction once planned for the oil company’s Project Indian site.
Citadel recently filed the lawsuit 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 approved by 59 percent of voters also bars fracking and other extraction methods—and requested a judgement on whether the initiative 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.
County supervisors at their Tuesday meeting will weigh the $36,000 flat fee for services from Cota Cola LLP for proceedings at the court trial phase. Additionally, in a separate agenda item, the board will consider whether to add promotional material to the county website soliciting donations for a Measure J legal defense fund.
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