CFROG applauds operator Carbon California for voluntarily opting to temporarily shut down the Ferndale Oil Lease (Santa Paula Canyon, behind Thomas Aquinas College) ahead of the impending "atmospheric river" storm event. The steep hillsides and canyons in the area were all burned in the Thomas Fire and present an impending risk to oil facilities, which could result in spills into Santa Paula Creek.
The land use permit governing this lease holds Ventura County responsible for requiring the oil field be shut down when major storm events that could result in public health, safety or environmental impacts could occur. The lease includes an unsupported pipeline across Santa Paula Creek.
In January, CFROG and partners Los Padres ForestWatch and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a complaint against the County of Ventura for failing to enforce this permit condition prior to the first storm after the fire. Experts had said the hillsides were completely "denuded" and the potential for debris flow and mudslides were high. The County responded that they didn't feel there was an emergency, but that they had learned the oil field was still shut down from damage related to the Thomas Fire - so they hadn't needed to enforce the permit condition. Even though the condition also required the oil company to provide a post-storm report about any damage or potential risks to public health that may have occurred. WE continue to hope the county will enforce permit conditions the public relies on to protect the environment and public health/safety.