For Immediate Release July 10, 2014
Jeff Kuyper, Los Padres ForestWatch (805) 252-4277
John Brooks Citizens For Responsible Oil & Gas (CFROG) 805-556-4001
GROUPS APPEAL APPROVAL OF OIL WELLS NEAR PIRU
Ventura, Calif. – Los Padres ForestWatch (LPFW) and Citizens for Responsible Oil & Gas (CFROG) have filed an appeal challenging the approval of test wells in a long abandoned oil field between Lake Piru, the Sespe Condor Sanctuary, the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge, and the Los Padres National Forest.
The approval was issued June 30 by the Ventura County Planning Director, and authorizes DCOR LLC to restart industrial activity with exploratory oil and gas wells in Modelo Canyon, 1.5 miles north of the small community of Piru. The permit would also allow the widening of an access road and construction of various production facilities, including storage tanks, pipelines, a flare to burn off excess gas, and a helicopter landing pad. According to County documents, the wells will “ determine the commercial viability of the reactivation of the Modelo Area of the Piru Oil Field.” The oil field contains 63 wells that were active beginning in the late 1800s until they were abandoned in 1990.
Instead of preparing a full Environmental Impact Report, the county planning department prepared a less detailed Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) concluding that the project will have no significant impacts.
In their appeal, the groups challenge the County’s failure to consider and address numerous environmental and public health impacts associated with the project, including:
• The project is in close proximity to sensitive nesting, roosting, and foraging habitat for the endangered California condor;
• The project would cut through the heart of one of our region’s most important wildlife corridors linking the Santa Monica, Simi, Santa Susana, and Sierra Madre Ranges. Scientists have declared this habitat corridor as “irreplaceable and imminently threatened;”
• Impacts to rare plants and wildlife in Modelo Creek;
• Potential seismic impacts associated with vulnerable infrastructure and injection of wastewater near one of the most active earthquake faults in our region; and
• Cumulative impacts associated with past, present, and future oil drilling activities in the area.
The appeal will be considered by the Ventura County Planning Commission later this year.
The groups want the Commission to withdraw the approval of the test wells, and to direct the Planning Division to prepare a detailed Environmental Impact Report. Without the benefit of an EIR, the decision violates the California Environmental Quality Act and other state and federal wildlife protection laws.
Other groups supporting the appeal include Wishtoyo Foundation and its Ventura Coastkeeper Program, Sierra ClubLos Padres Chapter, Ventura Audubon Society, and the Environmental Defense Center.