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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.
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.
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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.
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.
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: email@example.com 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.
- 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.
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.