Greenwashing in Ventura County

Perhaps one of the most famous recent cases of greenwashing were the pink drill bits distributed after the Susan B Komen foundation received a very big donation from Baker Hughes. Komen works to find a cure for cancer, Baker Hughes provides technology and various services to the oil and gas industry - including fracking. See the problem? 

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And now Ventura County is seeing a prelude to a greenwashing campaign from local oil and gas companies and the oil lobby - events funded by the industry in communities that have been overly burdened by the impacts of oil and gas extraction for decades. Below is a letter to the editor submitted to the VC Star, written by Manuel Bustamante, a resident of Ventura.

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Support City of Ventura in Opposing New Offshore Drilling

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On May 7 the City Council of Ventura will consider an agenda item (#11 HERE) to oppose new offshore drilling that is being proposed by the federal Department of the Interior through a new offshore leasing program. 

Action Item: 

1. Residents of the City of Ventura can let your council members know that you support this agenda item because: 

  • New drilling increases the risks of spills and accidents, especially because the federal government is rolling back important protections related to offshore drilling that were put in place after the Deepwater Horizon Disaster. 
  • Our clean oceans are vital to our local coastal economy and a spill would have a disastrous impact on local businesses, jobs and residents. 
  • We should be moving toward renewable energy sources as a pathway to energy independence since solar, wind and tidal energy is available in  infinite amounts - whereas fossil fuel based energy not only contributes to Climate Change but is a finite resource. 

Contact information for Ventura City Councilmembers HERE. 

 

* May 19 Hands Across the Sand Event: RSVP on Facebook. 

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Why should I care about zoning clearance appeals?

Today, as a result of supporters of CFROG and our partners, a bad proposal was pulled off the meeting agenda by the Ventura County Board of Supervisors. 

But what does it all mean? Ministerial, Discretionary, zoning Clearance, CEQA, legacy permits, Antiquated CUP...it can make your head hurt. 

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Land use permitting can be confusing to the general public, and the terms are wonky. Here is a "primer" of sorts about the issue as it relates to the work CFROG does in Ventura County. 


What is a Conditional Use Permit?

All oil and gas operations require the operator to have a land use permit - called a conditional use permit (CUP) - from the local land use agency. Most oil and gas operations in Ventura County are located within the unincorporated area, so Ventura County Planning is the land use agency that issues and oversees those oil and gas permits.

The are called "conditional" because they have "conditions of approval" that the operator must comply with and the county must enforce. These conditions include restrictions on truck trips, hours of operation, how many wells can be drilled (and where) etc. and are intended to mitigate impacts. 

When an operator wants to change their existing CUP, they must apply for a modification - that includes adding more wells.

Generally a CUP has an expiration date. For oil and gas, right now CUP's typically cover around 30 years. Usually an oil company will choose to modify a permit, if they want to add wells, at the same time they are asking to renew the CUP.

If operators fail to comply with the conditions of their CUP there are consequences, including revocation of the permit - although we have yet to see that occur with an oil and gas permit, even with violations.

 

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Two Supervisors Propose Removing Public Right to Appeal

UPDATE: Mon, April 9: 10:30am - CFROG has been notified that the Board will vote in the morning to remove this item from the agenda - BUT if you are able to attend it is still important to ensure they remove it, AND that they see the public's interest in this issue. Keep submitting comments to: clerkoftheboard@ventura.org Re. Item #43

Breaking News: Two Ventura County supervisors propose prohibiting the public from filing appeals on "ministerial" zoning clearance projects - this can include more oil wells on old land use permits.

Zoning Clearances: 

  • have no public notice.
  • have no public hearing.
  • include no environmental or health impact review.
  • Ventura county views them all as ministerial, whether they are for a backyard gazebo or expanding an oil and gas field.

In many cases when appeals are filed, the problem is the way the project is analyzed and an appeal is the public's only remedy of holding local government accountable for protecting public health and the environment. 

For example: County planning is currently processing a zoning clearance application for 79 new wells on the Oxnard Plain taking farmland to make new drill pads for wells that will extract dirty tar sands using cyclic steam.

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