The Oxnard City Council has moved forward on Tuesday evening with a proposal to consider supporting the appeal filed by Citizens For Responsible Oil and Gas (CFROG) and Food & Water Watch earlier this year demanding a full environmental impact study of the Cabrillo Oil Field expansion.
Photo: Karina Kaye speaking to the Oxnard City Council on July 11 asking them to put this issue on a future agenda.
In April of this year, Ventura County Planning Director Kim Prillhart approved four new oil wells within walking distance of the Oxnard Pacific community near Pleasant Valley Rd, without conducting any sort of environmental impact study to determine potential hazards to the air, water, and public health of Oxnard residents.
“This is not just about fossil fuels,” said Oxnard Mayor Pro-Tem Carmen Ramirez right before requesting this issue appear on an upcoming council agenda. “We need to ask how this project affects the health of our people, many of whom already suffer from respiratory illnesses [and are familiar with the effects of] airborne carcinogens.”
City staff have indicated the issue will be put on an agenda most likely after the August recess, but the groups are hoping they can find a spot during one of the remaining July meetings to ensure it occurs prior to the county Planning Commission hearing - that is expected to be set in August.
While reaching out to residents, fieldworkers, and school districts in nearby areas is not a legal requirement, neither the county nor the Bakersfield based Renaissance Petroleum company have shared information on the oil expansion proposal with any of the over 1,000 residents who have signed a petition in support of the appeal.
The City of Oxnard is a community mostly populated by people of color that has historically been overburdened with three gas-fired power plants, massive pesticide usage within a quarter-mile of several schools, and a toxic Superfund site in addition to dozens of active oil wells.
CFROG and Food & Water Watch representatives also presented a suggested resolution to the council which acknowledges environmental justice and outlines public health as the foundation to a vibrant community, strong economy and thriving environment.
Both Councilmembers Oscar Madrigal and Bert Perello voiced support for a future discussion on the oil expansion issue to appear on the council agenda. In fact, Perello raised concerns during the last council meeting on the potential hazards of oil tanker trucks driving through Hales Rd, a street also used by local school busses as well as the only route accessible to the Cabrillo Oil Field.
Oxnard residents look on Tuesday evening as city council meeting gets underway
A recent letter sent to the city council by Renaissance Petroleum claimed to have “fact-checked” many of the justifications set forth by the appeal and asked the council to “disregard the request to consider a resolution in support of CFROG’s appeal of RenPet’s [oil expansion] permit.”
Proponents of a full environmental impact report addressed this communication in their opening remarks.
“My team and I have prepared a response to the issues raised in this email,” said Food & Water Watch intern Francisco Ferreyra, as he flashed a copy to the council members. “However, in the spirit of transparency we have decided to hold off and instead request an open public forum where all the relevant info can be provided.”
Photo: Oxnard residents speaking out for their community at the July 11 Oxnard City Council meeting. From the left: Brenda Tungui, Mayra Velazquez, Karina Kaye, Esmeralda Tungui, Noemi Tungui, Francisco Ferreyra, Stephanie Flores.