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Thu Jul 18 2013 (Updated 08/09/13)Lawsuit Targets San Benito County's Approval of 15 Oil Wells in Endangered Condor Habitat
Thu Jul 18 2013 (Updated 08/09/13)Environmental Impact from 'Huff and Puff' Oil Extraction Threatens California Condor
The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit on July 10 challenging San Benito County’s approval of a major new oil development in the Salinas Valley watershed. The 15 new oil wells approved by the county last month will use cyclic steam injection, also known as "huff-and-puff", a dangerous and polluting form of oil extraction that targets heavy crude. The new wells would be located in an area used by California condors, which are critically endangered, along with other wildlife. The lawsuit was filed in Monterey County Superior Court under the California Environmental Quality Act.
The Indian Wells oil-development project will take place on a remote, little-developed 688-acre site in the Bitterwater area of southeastern San Benito County, about nine miles south of Pinnacles National Park. The project site sits atop the Bitterwater groundwater basin and drains to the Salinas River, an important source of drinking and irrigation water for some of the world’s most productive farmland.
The site is also important foraging habitat for the California condor, a critically imperiled species with a population of only about 430 individuals. Condors from both the Big Sur population and the Pinnacles National Monument population have been photographed on the project site drinking water from a trough. The condors photographed on the site are believed to constitute 10 percent of the total population of the species.
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