by Leslie Layton
One of the key arguments made during the local fracking debate was based, at least in part, on an erroneous statement by county officials, ChicoSol has learned.
As a draft ordinance to prevent fracking was debated at public meetings early this year and last year, opponents often argued that a Butte County ban would serve a symbolic rather than regulatory role. The Butte County Department of Development Services (DDS) provided a key piece of evidence for that argument: No one, they said, had applied for a conditional use permit to drill a new gas well in more than 25 years.
But ChicoSol, working with partner Chico News & Review, has learned that for 22 of those 25 years, conditional use permits weren’t sought from the county for an astonishingly simple reason: They weren’t required. Butte County didn’t require conditional use permits for gas-well drilling until it adopted a new zoning code on Nov. 6, 2012.