Status of Oil Fields Following Thomas Fire in Ventura County - Update 1

CFROG reached out to several agencies and elected officials asking about protocol in oil fields following a major fire incident and this morning we received the following response from Benjamin Turner, Assistant Director of Government and Environmental Relations at the Department of Conservation, which includes our state oil and gas regulatory agency the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR).

We also received an update from Aera Energy at 12:52pm Dec. 12 - it is posted below.

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“While there are no specific regulations for reactivation following an incident, such as in the case of the Thomas Fire, the Division has regulations that address various incidents.  For instance, under general requirements (California Code of Regulations 1722), unauthorized releases are required to be reported to the State Office of Emergency Services (OES), the Division district office, and any other agencies specified in the operator’s plan, which can include other State and local agencies.  In addition, incidents such as blowouts, fires, serious accidents and significant gas and water leaks or similar threats to health and safety are required to be reported to the Division district office.

Upon notification as required above, the District office staff obtain information regarding the incident.  The Division district offices are staffed to receive calls 24-hr a day, 365 days out of the year from an answering service for after hour calls.   Depending on the severity of the incident, the field engineer may notify his or her supervisors, who may also report the incident to the Division State Oil and Gas Supervisor, as well as Department leads.  The field engineer may also perform an initial inspection and then follow-up inspections.  For instance, information was received from oil operators for their leases in the Ventura oil field.  Given the restrictions in the area, the Division will not conduct an initial inspection while the fire is ongoing.  Our staff will however conduct follow-up inspections.  

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CFROG Wins!

CFROG Wins! Ventura County oil and gas project approval violated local and state laws.

 By John Brooks
CFROG co-founder and Board member

Ventura County Superior Court judge, Hon. Glen M. Reiser not only criticized the majority vote of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors for sidestepping analysis and mitigation in the name of expediency in an Upper Ojai Valley oil and gas project, he also held Ventura County planning staff responsible for misrepresenting facts and stated staff showed a deep seated feeling of dislike to the concerns of local residents.

Citizens For Responsible Oil & Gas (CFROG) filed legal action in 2016 against Ventura County because the planning department, and ultimately the Board of Supervisors - in a three to two vote - approved a project adding three new wells and allowing oil tanker trucks to use a narrow rural road and bridge in the Upper Ojai Valley. CFROG knew the county violated policies of the Ojai Valley Area Plan, part of the county General Plan, that mandate any project that will emit over 5 lbs. per day of particular air toxins be found to have a “significant” impact thus triggering a more in-depth environmental review. And the county had failed to explain why with increased and faster traffic, and more trucks servicing more oil and gas wells in the area resulted in a safer intersection today, whereas in the 70’s the county prohibited oil tanker trucks from using Koenigstein Road because they deemed it unsafe.

Here is a video prepared by county staff showing an oil tanker truck turning onto the road. 

In his Nov. 14 ruling in favor of CFROG, Reiser ordered the county to “set aside” the project approval and prepare a “revised” environmental study “consistent with” the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the entire ruling.  This means the county must include an analysis of the significant air quality and traffic impacts and alternatives and methods to reduce the impacts for the expansion of the Agnew Lease.

This decision will have powerful ripple effects for all oil and gas permit modifications and renewals in Ventura County and it calls into question the legality of several aspects of how the county planning department processes oil and gas permits.

 

 

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County application complete for waste company under arraignment

Santa Paula - 

TONIGHT , Monday, October 2 - at 6:30pm at the Santa Paula City Council meeting, the City Manager of Santa Paula will provide an update of the permit application submitted to Ventura County Planning from companies currently under arraignment by the Ventura County District Attorney - Santa Clara Waste Water and Green Compass - both were involved in the 2014 explosion that led to toxic plumes and injured firefighters. 

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RESOURCES:

For details and to RSVP for tonights meeting CLICK HERE. 

HERE is the Determination of Application Completeness from Ventura County dated Sept. 20, 2017. 

Santa Paula Times article March 22, 2017 - another employee pleads guilty. 

LA Times: 37 treated after bizarre explosion. Nov. 19, 2014. 

KTLA investigation into explosion continues - Nov. 19, 2014.  

Santa Paula Times, 7 arrested in connection with explosion, Aug. 14, 2015. 

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VCStar Letter "Locked in an energy past"

About a month ago I submitted a letter to the editor of the VC Star. It was printed on September 11 (it ran online on August 16)


Sept 11, 2017, VC Star Letter to the Editor:

The fossil fuel industry is a major part of Ventura County’s history. That should not prevent smart choices for the future.

The Ventura County tax assessor's statement for 2015-16 revealed an interesting trend. Overall tax assessments increased, but the value of oil- and gas-producing properties declined by 40 percent. This demonstrates that Ventura County can prosper even when the oil industry takes a hit. Why is this important?

CLICK HERE to read the rest online in the VCSTAR.

Photo: Kimberly Rivers, CFROG and Tomas Rebecchi, FWW at the September 7 VC Planning Commission hearing regarding the expansion of the Cabrillo Oil Field without cumulative health impacts study. We are appealing to the Board of Supervisors. 

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