California judge strikes down plan to drill near Pinnacles National Park

California judge strikes down plan to drill near Pinnacles National Park

Citadel Exploration Inc. will not be able to drill wells near the Pinnacles National Park, thanks to a California judge who struck down the plan, citing environmental risks.

The plan was to drill 15 pilot wells about 9 miles from the Pinnacles National Park, but the company could have ended up drilling several more wells after the completion of the pilot project.

While the project obtained approval from San Benito County Board of Supervisors last year; Monterey County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wills struck it down, saying the county failed to adequately consider the risk of spills, greenhouse gas emissions, and water & air pollution from the project.

In addition, the county failed to consider the risks that the project would pose to the seriously endangered California condor, a species that recently made a comeback from the verge of extinction. Pinnacles National Park is home to nearly 24 of the just 160 California condors alive today.

The project was challenged by the Center for Biological Diversity in July 2013. Deborah Sivas, a representative for the Center for Biological Diversity in the lawsuit, argued, "This project could turn this beautiful area into a massive new oil field."

Residents near the proposed drilling site were also worried about how the drilling project would affect their freshwater supplies. It may be noted here that California has been in the grip of severe dry conditions since the start of this year.

If Citadel Exploration Inc. can apply for a new permit for the drilling project but it will have to submit a full Environmental Impact Report.

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