Future of oil drilling near Pismo Beach hangs in the balance for oil company

Future of oil drilling near Pismo...

PISMO BEACH, Calif. - A hearing was held today to decide if an oil company can drill in Price Canyon, just outside of Pismo Beach.

It appears this long drawn out court case will soon be coming to an end - the judge was supposed to make a decision today but opted to send a written decision in the near future. He has 90 days.

"The previous operator of the oil field, which was then Freeport McMoRan, but is now Sentinel, wanted to get an aquifer exemption from the state and then from EPA," Maya Golden Krasner, attorney for The Center for Biological Diversity said. 

Maya Golden-Krasner is an attorney for The Center for Biological Diversity, which opposes the oil drilling. She says the oil company got the exemption from the state to expand their oil field - but the EPA wanted more information and an environmental review before giving the oil company an exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act.

"So people are surrounding the oil field rely on the well water for drinking and for their animals.. and they're really concerned that oil waste injection that contains chemicals like Benzyne could migrate out of that aquifer and into their groundwater," Golden-Krasner said. 

Golden-Krasner says things could be looking grim for the hundreds of people living near Price Canyon Road - about five miles east of Pismo Beach - based on what the judge has been saying.

"It looks like he's leaning towards saying that state regulators won't have to do this environmental review," Golden-Krasner said. 

Golden-Krasner has a message for the judge.

"I believe that he's taking this matter very seriously but it's so critical that state agencies take public health and the environment into account before they make critical decisions that could effect California's environment," Golden-Krasner said. 

Sentinel Peak Resources told us in a statement today that "today's court proceedings affirm Sentinel Peak Resources' understanding of CEQA applicability..and the aquifer exemption process as administered by state agencies."

"I believe that they won't be able to expand because I don't know if you've driven down the canyon recently but the air quality, the odor and the fear of it getting into the water system," Corey Smith said, who lives off of Price Canyon. 

Corey Smith opposes the expansion of the oil field.

"I have to go with my piers and the neighborhood that are fighting it," Smith said. 

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