SANTA BARBARA COUNTY - Dozens of people on the central coast voiced their concerns over the ERG oil company that recently expanded in Santa Barbara County.
It all happened at a town hall meeting called by county supervisor Steve Lavagnino.
"I just thought that this would be a nice, informal way to meet people and have their voice heard at the county level," Lavagnino said.
But for those in the audience this was an opportunity to express their discontent with the ERG oil company, located in the area of Cat Canyon and Palmer roads.
"This canyon used to be beautiful. I mean beautiful. They have destroyed it. It was never like this," said John Stevens, who lives just miles from the property.
"All the concerns about safety. When you add them up, the roads, the toxic gases, that are flared out," said Michael Brand of Sisquoc.
ERG bought the property from Chevron about a year and a half ago.
Since then, it has created more than 300 wells in the fields and has plans to expand.
The problem residents voiced before Lavagnino, the Sheriff's office and fire and public works departments, is the company was exempt from submitting an environmental impact report.
"To say that oil companies don't have to go through the regulation I think is a little misleading. I think they've had to jump over more hurdles than any other industry and probably than any other county," Lavagnino said.
Lavagnino said the company is acting in compliance with the law.
ERG president, Phil Sorbet, said the company isn't operating differently than when the land was under Chevron's ownership.
Sorbet said ERG has been repairing and replacing equipment, including all pipelines, in an effort to avoid spills and other hazards.
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