This is the first blog post on the CFROG BLOG - check back here to regular reports from CFROG about important issues related to oil and gas activities in Ventura County and the State.
Yesterday (Tues. June 21) your elected representatives, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors voted - three to two - to overturn a decades long precedent held in the County that the intersection of Koenigstein Road and Highway 150 (located in Upper Ojai) is unsafe for oil tanker truck traffic. This vote, made by Supervisors Peter Foy, Kathy Long and John Zaragoza open the doors to more trucks on a rural, residential road.
We applaud the "no" votes of Supervisors Steve Bennett and Linda Parks who opposed the motion - during board deliberation they were not comfortable with the County deeming that intersection safe for oil tanker trucks.
The applicant oil operator had asked the county -
- to renew the Conditional Use Permit allowing oil drilling for another 25 years
- to allow three new wells (there are three existing wells)
- to redrill one well (old wells sometimes need to be redrilled to get things flowing again)
- and to let oil tanker trucks to use the intersection to take oil, gas and oil field waste water from the site.
Back in the early 80's, the Board of Supervisors prohibited the use of the road and intersection because the big trucks couldn't make a legal or safe turn - turning into or out of the intersection. HERE IS A COUNTY VIDEO OF AN OIL TRUCK MAKING THE TURN - you can see the front wheels cross the center yellow line on Highway 150 and as the truck goes onto the Koenigstein Road bridge it MUST go into the far lane, crossing that center line as well.
Here are two photos I took on June 7, 2016 (primary election day) at the intersection, and what luck the local fire truck was out driving around. Note how the truck must go into the center of the bridge (Photo 1) to prepare for its turn - to clear the corners - and when it makes it's turn (Photo 2) how it is well into the oncoming traffic lane. We forgive the fire trucks from making these turns because they serve the public good and are not a for-profit enterprise, they also do these driving trips to make sure the drivers know how to maneuver on these rural, narrow roads.
But is it in the public interest to allow oil tanker trucks
to make illegal and dangerous turns?
CFROG doesn't think so. That is why we appealed this project all the way to the Board of Supervisors. Note - the oil tanker trucks will make a left turn onto the highway, but the turning radius is the same as shown in the photo (from right lane to near lane) when they come ON TO Koenigstein road)
CFROG filed an appeal asking the County to conduct a complete traffic study - assessing traffic, average speed etc. so the County would have information to support their finding the intersection was safe. But instead Supervisors Peter Foy, Kathy Long and John Zaragoza voted to declare the intersection as safe for oil tanker trucks. What kind of liability does the County have since they declared it safe for oil tanker trucks without due diligence?
Another part of our appeal involved what we believe are violations of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) - the short version is that by not following air emissions rules in the Ojai Valley Area Plan the County is circumventing their own General Plan, and causing "segmentation" - something prohibited by CEQA.
Our Board is determining next steps on this project -
Do you think oil tanker trucks should be allowed to make that turn?
Do you want your County to abide by state environmental laws?
because it's our backyard - where we live, work and play.
Executive Director, CFROG