Ventura County's environmental watchdogs

• Taking on the oil industry 
• Campaigning for clean air and water
• Advocating for the health and safety of our residents 

CFROG has built a team of experts to challenge the status quo with facts and commonsense proposals to fight bad projects that hurt our environment and jeopardize our health.

Our success speaks for itself:

    • Won unanimous Board of Supervisors vote for a moratorium to stop new cyclic steam oil drilling activities in the Oxnard Plain in order to protect our water.
    • Fought to successfully deny an expanded oilfield near a low-income community with a high pollution burden.
    • Put oil companies on notice with a long-sought vote by the Board of Supervisors to bring all new projects under modern environmental review.
    • Supported  the inclusion of a robust climate action plan in Ventura County’s new General Plan.
    • Administered a successful community air monitoring program in low-income communities.

Home page aerial photo by Jimmy Young.

  • From the blog

    Taxpayers should not have to pick up the tab for fossil-fuel industry cleanup



    None of us would walk out of a restaurant after eating a huge meal without paying and then expect others to clean up our mess. But that is what the state's oil companies are doing by abandoning wells and expecting taxpayers to pick up the cost.

    Climate First: Replacing Oil and Gas was dismayed to learn that oil companies have given the state only $110 million to clean up onshore oil and gas wells when the estimated tab is closer to $6 billion.

    Across much of California, fossil-fuel companies are leaving thousands of oil and gas wells unplugged and idle, potentially threatening the health of people living nearby and, when the time comes for the environmental cleanup, taxpayers will be handed a multibillion-dollar bill.

    Close to home, the state has already had to take over responsibility for dozens of wells on both Rincon Island in Ventura County and Platform Holly in Santa Barbara County.

    A recent study by the California Council on Science and Technology reveals 35,000 wells sitting idle. Many sit near the low-income neighborhoods in west Ventura. According to FracTracker, Ventura County has 2,022 idle wells as of the end of 2019. That is the fourth highest in California.

    People living near unplugged oil and gas wells face exposure to hazardous chemicals such as benzene and methane. According to a Los Angeles Times-Public Integrity analysis, more than 2 million Californians live near an unplugged oil or gas well, with Latino, black and low-income people living nearby at a slightly higher rate than the California population as a whole.

    California recently beefed up its regulations to make sure more cleanup money is available, but those measures don’t go far enough. CFROG is calling for a study on exactly how many orphan and failing wells there are in Ventura County and what the prospects are for an orderly transition away from fossil fuels.

    We believe the price tag for cleanup will increase as the industry continues its decline. California oil production has fallen nearly 60 percent from its peak in 1985.

    One of Ventura County's and the state’s largest producers, California Resources Corporation (CRC) is responsible for the third-most idle wells of any company in the state and faces cleanup costs larger than its total market value. If CRC were to go under, other companies would probably buy some of the wells, but many could become the problem of state taxpayers.

    The Ventura County Board of Supervisors needs to address this dilemma as it updates its General Plan this year to lay out policies for the next 20 years. One step would be to require abandonment of one well for each new well permit that is issued. Other cities have done this.

    Taxpayers should not be picking up the tab for the fossil fuel industry.



    The purple dots represent idle wells in West Ventura County. Source: Los Angeles Times

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    A climate emergency too close to home



    We have long known Ventura County was extremely vulnerable to the effects of a warming planet. Our fires, droughts and threatened coastal infrastructure put us at risk.

    But it was still shocking to learn from a report in the Washington Post that we are the fastest-warming county in the lower 48 states. With a temperature increase of 2.6 degrees Celsius since preindustrial times, our warming has already exceeded the 2 degrees Celsius threshold set by the Paris Climate agreement. 

    We have seen the catastrophic effects of a warming world in the fierce winds that whipped the Thomas and Woolsey fires out of control and we will not forget the suffering it caused our families and neighbors.

    Then we learned from a new study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that our coastal waters are acidifying at twice the global rate, threatening life in the ocean and with it our fishing industry. This is a lesser known effect of a changing climate.

    The push for policies that will slow the catastrophic effects of climate change needs to begin everywhere and at once.

    Ventura County must make a bold statement about climate with its General Plan Update. This is the document that sets the policies that drive all land use decisions for the next 20 years. Indeed, at a recent Board of Supervisors meeting dozens of speakers asked for more local policies that will help the county reduce emissions.

    Climate First: Replacing Oil and Gas (CFROG) has analyzed the county’s General Plan draft with the help of nationally recognized air quality expert Dr. Steven Colome and the prestigious environmental law firm Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger, LLP.

    While its goals are laudable, the county’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) fails to provide enough emissions reduction to meet the state-mandated climate goals. The plan is seriously incomplete and lacks the technical and scientific input needed.

    Climate change is caused by fossil fuel production and consumption. The CAP addresses the consumption side by merely encouraging, but not requiring, electric fuel vehicles and clean power for homes and businesses. But Ventura County is the third largest oil and gas producing county in California. As such, we must do our part to reduce oil production through thoughtful, rigorous policy to phase it out. This is not addressed.

    The county is accepting comments through February on the Environmental Impact Report that accompanies the update. To submit your comments, go to https://vcrma.org/vc2040.org/review. CFROG has a list of talking points to use at www.cfrog.org.

    We have seen that our state's early, groundbreaking policies to reduce emissions have spread to other states, the nation and the world. Here in Ventura County, where the effects of climate change have become frighteningly real, we are motivated now more than ever.

     

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