County staff want to remove public health and safety from permitting ordinance language.
What do outdoor events and oil & gas projects have in common?
We don't see a connection, but county staff are seeking changes to improve how outdoor events are permitted. That sounds grand. But those changes effectively remove public health and safety from the consideration of oil and gas projects also. That is bad governance, we think the county can do better.
Tomorrow (3:30 time scheduled) the VC Board of Supervisors (BOS) will consider and vote on some changes to the Non-Coastal Zoning Ordinance (NCZO) –the laws governing land use in the county.
The proposed changes, if approved, diminish the county’s ability to consider public health and safety in reviewing land use projects. Just last month, the county received an application from an oil field waste disposal company, which was told in 2015 their current permit would not be renewed because, in the interest of public health and safety, oil field waste injection was not compatible with agriculture land uses.
google earth image, 2013, Anterra Facility, surrounded by strawberry fields, Wooley Road, Oxnard.
The public is being told the proposed NCZOs change apply to outdoor events, but buried in the agenda item, and in the proposal are changes that narrow the county’s ability to consider public health and safety when reviewing any and all discretionary projects – including oil and gas extraction and waste disposal projects.
CFROG understands the proposed changes are in response to a lawsuit the county lost regarding outdoor events, but county staff is suggesting changes that move beyond outdoor events.
Oil & Gas waste disposal company applies for permit renewal
Anterra Energy in Oxnard has submitted an application to the Ventura County Planning department for a renewal of their permit to operate the Class II Oil Field waste disposal and injection site on Wooley Road in Oxnard. The existing land use permit expires next month.
VC Star article from today.
CFROG has requested a copy of the permit application (PL18-0089), and as of today (July 16, 2018) the county is still assigning a case planner. The file can be viewed at that time. Update: 12:20pm, CFROG has obtained a copy of the 168 page application and is reviewing it, also in light of the historic land use permit files we have.
Anterra was the subject of a District Attorney investigation (news reports here and here) that did not lead to charges. The company also sought a zoning amendment that would allow the grandfathered operation to continue past the current permit timeline at the existing location. In 2015, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors determined the injection of oil field waste was not compatible with "AE" - Agricultural Exclusive zoning. In a 4-1 vote, (VC Star article here) the supervisors told staff to stop processing/researching the zoning amendment Anterra has requested. Here is a letter to the editor by Supervisor John Zaragoza about why he opposed the zoning amendment.
In 2013 a company representative told the Santa Paula City Council (the company was looking to open a facility just outside Santa Paula City Limits) that the company had "outgrown" the Oxnard facility, here is the news story in the Santa Paula Times.
In 2014 the county cited Anterra for permit violations related exceeding the number of allowed truck trips, the company appealed to the Planning Commission which upheld the citations (VC Star article here).
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Today, 1-4pm, the first meeting of the Advisory Panel for the California Underground Injection Control (UIC) program will be publicly broadcast HERE.
This panel will be part of the mandated reform taking place, and will be seeking public input. CFROG will be submitting comments that will include a request that local community meetings be part of the information gathering process so those most likely to be impacted by underground injection policies will have an opportunity to speak to the panel.
This panel was formed pursuant to new legislation (SB83) and this is the first meeting. HERE is information on the panel. And here is the public notice about todays meeting. The panel consists of several member from the environmental sector, as well as the president of the industry lobbying group Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA).
Photo: Existing oil and gas wells in the Sespe Oil Field, credit: Los Padres ForestWatch