Forest Service cancels Calif. oil project after 10-year fight

By Heather Richards | 04/18/2024 06:38 AM EDT

The drilling proposal aimed to increase production in the Los Padres National Forest.

Los Padres National Forest.

A view of Los Padres National Forest in California. Greenmatthew/Wikipedia

The U.S Forest Service has scrapped a decade-old proposal to drill for oil and gas in a national forest in California, giving a win to environmental groups aiming to protect endangered condors and trout.

Oil company Carbon California had planned to drill eight new wells and build a new pipeline in the Los Padres National Forest, which sits on top of one of the state’s oldest oil fields. Protests, company changes and bureaucratic delays stalled the plan for 10 years.

The U.S. Forest Service marked the project “cancelled” on its website earlier this month, capping years of back and forth over whether to allow the hydraulic fracturing proposal in the forest, which is east of Santa Barbara. Commonly known as “fracking,” hydraulic fracturing injects water and chemicals underground to break rock and release trapped oil and natural gas.


The recent cancellation doesn’t mean the oil company — which did not respond to multiple requests for comment — couldn’t try again to develop its leases in the forest or revive the proposed project, said Andrew Madsen, a spokesperson for the Los Padres National Forest, in an email.