County Goof Shaped Fracking Debate


photo by Leslie Layton

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.

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