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New Times / Letter To The Editor

The following article was posted on December 5th, 2012, in the New Times - Volume 27, Issue 19 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 27, Issue 19

Good neighbors don't act like this

Arroyo Grande

Istar Holliday

So Excelaron is suing SLO County for denying its application to drill for shale oil in the Huasna Valley, a rural, agricultural community of homes and ranches, claiming the denial “rendered Excelaron’s mineral rights useless and valueless … .”

Five years of enquiry resulted in the findings of the Planning Department, the Planning Commission, and the Board of Supervisors that the project, if approved, would so negatively impact the Huasna Valley’s air quality, noise level, ground stability, and roads that the current residents would lose their present quality of life and suffer a significant reduction of their property value. It was rejected.

At many of the meetings on this application, I heard Carol Florence repeat endlessly what a good neighbor Excelaron was going to be. How “honorable” were those promises? When money is at stake, assurances are worthless, which is exactly what the Huasna community anticipated and resisted. As the project grew and became so complicated, it would be impossible to assign blame and liability in the event of fire, earthquake, explosion, or groundwater contamination: BP/Transoceanic/ Halliburton revisited.

When I was young, the rationale for the hugely disparate compensation of investors was that “risk takers” should be compensated, as not all enterprises were guaranteed success. That theory is out the window. Gamble with investors’ money? Invest in a chancy purchase of mineral rights in an agricultural community to drill for oil and lose to an activist community and a vigilant county? Take the losses off your taxes? Better to threaten them with a suit that would destroy the county and your potential “good neighbors.”

A multibillion dollar suit is not a quest for compensation. Call it what it is: extortion!