Update, January 2019:
Your Voice Needed Now for Clean Air & Climate Action -
On Tuesday, Jan 15th, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors will consider a proposal that threatens local air quality, public health and safety and continues to allow risky oil and gas extraction without proper impact review.
Submit written comment TODAY, Monday Jan 14 (scroll down for details) & RSVP to attend Tuesday Jan 15 hearing HERE.
Here are the facts:
- The Bentley oil company, which has an oil and gas drilling site in open space just outside Ojai City Limits, has asked for permission to permit 9 existing oil wells for another 20 years at the base of Black Mountain.
- Bentley also wants a 24-hour flare to burn off emissions. It has already been doing so illegally - violating permit conditions - for decades. The oil company says a pipeline, the condition required in the existing permit, is not feasible and would be an economic hardship.
Why should the public bear the risk from leaks, spills, fires
and tanker truck accidents without any public benefit?
- Flare emissions contain methane, BTEX compounds (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene) and other gases. Methane is a major contributor to Climate Change and BTEX compounds include known carcinogens.
- Ventura County approved this project in 2017, and the City of Ojai filed an appeal to protect public health and enforce state laws requiring impact studies. That appeal is being heard by the Board of Supervisors on Jan. 15, 1:00pm.
Ventura County Planning is allowing emissions from the flare and wells
into your air shed for the next 20 years without any study of impacts.
- Because of the topography of the Ojai Valley, every night when the offshore breezes stop, the air flow moves the emissions from the 9 Bentley oil wells and flare, down the slope of Black Mountain, throughout the nearby neighborhoods, including Permission Hill - and out across the city of Ojai and throughout the Valley. No monitoring or testing of emissions or impacts as ever been done. The Ojai Valley has the second worst air quality (behind Simi Valley) in Ventura County.
- Every oil well emits 2lbs of air pollutants each day - 365 days a year. That 2lbs of polluting particles and vapor - it literally would weigh two pounds on a scale - would fill a 4 ft x 4 ft box each day from just one well. This project permits 9 wells.
By approving this project without any impact study, Ventura County is continuing a pattern of putting the interests of oil companies ahead of public health and safety.
This is a countywide issue - everyone in Ventura County needs to speak out.
Send comment to: firstname.lastname@example.org: Subject: Agenda Item #30 Bentley Renewal. Sending to the clerk ensures your comment is part of the record for the hearing and seen by all supervisors.
- Tell them to support the City of Ojai's appeal - deny the permit unless: all cumulative public health and environmental impacts are properly studied.
- Please include your city in your comment - full address is not required.
2. RSVP HERE to attend the City of Ojai Appeal Hearing - wear GREEN.
Status Summary: The City of Ojai has appealed the VC Planning Commission 4 to 1 vote approving the project. The city's appeal is being heard by the VC Board of Supervisors on January 15, 2019. Issues incude:
- prohibited use of a flare.
- required use of pipelines to dispose of unused/unsold natural gas from the site.
- Allows 6 oil tanker trucks per week to access the site from Creek Road, and leave via the Creek Road/Hwy 33 intersection.
By approving this permit the county is allowing the operator to correct a violation without any consequences, without reporting to the public the true level of emissions that will result from the flare being use for primary disposal of natural gas.
Oil Well Details: The permit includes land where a total of 35 oil wells were approved and drilled since 1893. 26 of those wells are either "plugged and abandoned" or "buried." Today, the operator is seeking ongoing operation of nine wells. Six of which have been long idled, (one idle well is labeled as plugged) with three wells labeled as active. Idle wells can be quickly reactivated, while plugged wells require more work to get back to active status.
Idle Wells: CFROG has concerns regarding the long idled wells and aging infrastructure. We believe the county should incorporate policy that requires well abandonment and phase out long idle wells as responsible public health policy.
Flare/Permit Violation: The application also includes a request to allow the ongoing regular use of a flare to burn off the natural gas that comes up with the wells. The current CUP prohibits the use of a "primary" flare, and only allows flaring for "emergency" use because the operator is supposed to use a pipeline to move gas from the site. But, years ago the operator began to rely solely on the flare to dispose gas that is brought up with the oil - in violation of the land use permit. But instead of requiring the operator to comply with conditions of the permit, Ventura County is allowing the operator to modify the permit to allow the flare to be used as the primary method of gas disposal. All without actual monitoring of the amount of true emissions from the flare - whether the pilot is burning or it is flaring gas.
Aging infrastructure/Low producing oil fields: Ventura County continues to approves permits for decades into the future without any regard to the economic viability of the oil well. This puts the public at risk for being left on the hook for plugging and properly abandoning wells should an operator cease operations, declare bankruptcy or otherwise "orphan" the wells. The state requires minimal bonds that are a drop in the bucket against the true cost of proper plugging.
Truck Route: This permit modification includes restrictions on number of trucks (6 per week) and hours (none during peak morning and evening hours) but we have concerns that the oil tanker trucks are using the dangerous Creek Road/Highway 33 intersection. And a full impact assessment of the future traffic, if all wells are active etc. must be included in the project assessment.