The California Department Justice urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last week to reconsider a proposal to drill for oil and natural gas in the Suisun Marsh, a wetland near the border between Solano and Contra Costa counties.
Sunset Exploration Inc., a Brentwood-based oil and gas company, filed a permit application with the Army Corps, which issued a public notice of the application in January.
In comments filed Friday with the Army Corps, acting state Attorney General Matthew Rodriguez and two deputy attorneys general, Josh Purtle and George Torgun, argued that the drilling proposal does not align with the public interest and would significantly harm the wetland and its surrounding area.
The DOJ noted that endangered species like the California Ridgeway’s rail and Chinook salmon live in the 88,000-acre wetland.
The Suisun Marsh is also a few miles from cities like Suisun City, Fairfield and Vallejo, which have already been affected for years by air pollution from nearby oil refineries.
“The proposed project would likely exacerbate harm to these environmental justice communities,” the attorneys said in comments to the Army Corps. “Exploratory drilling at the site could generate significant air and water pollution due to the operation of heavy machinery and the use of drilling mud, diesel fuel, and other chemicals. And the second phase of the project would involve construction of full-scale production facilities at the site, with even greater accompanying air and water quality impacts.”
In its comments, the DOJ urged the Army Corps to take several steps prior to considering approval of Sunset Exploration’s application, including reopening the public comment period, consulting with wildlife agencies about protected species and evaluating possible pollution mitigation measures.
The Department of Justice’s comments on the drilling proposal can be found on the state Office of the Attorney General’s website.