Never quit fighting for change

On Tuesday, the county put the oil and gas industry on notice that environmental oversight matters.

This is a group that is used to having its way with minimal permitting attention from the county, which has authority to inspect everything above the ground. Below the ground, the state’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) rules.

How is this possible? The vast majority of new wells are covered under very old permits for adjacent operations and don’t require modern environmental review. Some permits go back 50-70 years. Some don’t have them at all.

CFROG has long pushed for these “antiquated Conditional Use Permits” to be scuttled in favor of a process that would ask each applicant to submit to the same review drilling operations without these legacy permits undergo. We are heartened that the county’s legal team now agrees with us.

Under a staff recommendation, the board voted 4-1, with Supervisor Kelly Long dissenting, to direct county counsel to bring back an ordinance which would provide more oversight. And in a second motion, they asked that a way be found to prevent a run on these types of permits until the ordinance can be finalized.

The oil industry understands that its days are waning as the march toward renewables proceeds. And in the interim, we believe asking for equal environmental review for all new projects is smart.

The inspiration to move our economy away from fossil fuels has come from the bold action Californians have taken. We have developed policies that are being emulated around the world. The Chinese asked us for advice before starting their own cap and trade program. Automakers have joined with us in taking a stand for fuel economy against the backward ways of the Trump administration.

We are the cutting edge. We are leading the pack for the U.S. And we will be proud to tell our grandchildren some day that yes, we saw the planet struggling and we took a stand.