Oil company denies fracking in response to Pinnacles rally

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California condor

A debated plan to explore and drill for oil near the Pinnacles National Park in San Benito County has both environmental and oil supporters pushing back against each other’s claims about what the project means for the county and environment.
San Benito environmental activists known as San Benito Rising, with the Center for Biological Diversity as a cosponsor, plan to rally against proposed oil wells near Pinnacles National Park on Sept. 21, a Saturday.
The event is called “Draw the Line: Don’t Frack the Pinnacles.” The oil company with exclusive rights to the project – Ojai-based Citadel Exploration, Inc. – vehemently denied those implications of fracking.
“We’re not fracking,” said Robert Parry, a company spokesman. “The term ‘frack’ is deceptive at best.”
The spokesman said the project was “exploratory.”
“We’re using steam for the recovery,” he said. “We’re starting with a single well.”
The company entered into an agreement with the county last August to mitigate environmental concerns about the project, known as “Project Indian.”
“As important as it is for U.S. companies to increase our domestic oil supply, it is equally important that we take appropriate measures to preserve our rich cultural history and our environment,” Citadel President Armen Nahabedian said at the time.
In April, the San Benito County Planning Commission unanimously approved Project Indian. In July, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit against San Benito County in Monterey County Superior Court to stop the oil well decision, citing lack of a comprehensive environmental impact study and possible adverse effects to the region’s endangered condor population, in addition to water use issues.
“We’re deeply concerned,” said Rose Braz, the climate campaign director for the center, about the environmental impact of the proposed wells. “We should be moving to alternative sources of energy.”
The group claims the San Benito County Board of Supervisors violated the California Environmental Quality Act by approving of the project – a claim Citadel denied in its response.

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