Wed. 12/2: We’re being targeted again by big business, this time in Ventura County! Don’t sign the oil industry’s petition to pollute.

#1- SHARE with others you know on social media!

Share information, and sign up to counter inaccurate messages from paid petition gatherers!

(Action shared from CFROG and DoNotSignvc.com) Since Nov. 13, paid signature gatherers have been circulating petitions at big-box and grocery stores, to repeal recently-enacted county requirements that oil companies comply with up-to-date environmental practices for all new wells, no matter how old their original permit. To accomplish their goal of gathering 50k signatures (30,913 min.) before Dec. 10th, a group of oil producers from outside our county, mainly funded by Aera Energy a Shell-Exxon corp., and California Independent Petroleum Association (CIPA), are pushing the message that your support will save jobs, make gas cheaper, and help the economy. These claims are untrue or misleading. Please warn others about this campaign on your social media. Use the link: DoNotSignVC.com. CFROG has created great graphics for Twitter and Facebook in both English and Spanish here.

#2- Tell people facts before they sign.

Go to your local supermarket between the hours of 9-5 and stand at least 6 feet away from one of these petitioners with a sign like on the left below. More ambitious? Print out a cheatsheet of the talking points, (below right) for yourself and/or to hand to others. (The sign has already been tried at the Vons in Ojai. The petition gatherer left.)

  • You can print out the sign on 8×11 here.
  • You can print out the cheatsheet on 8×11 here.
  • Or make your own!

#3- Organize ourselves to cover more outlets.

There is a google doc spreadsheet from DoNotSignVC.org that lays out the different stores and times. Stores are listed for Moorpark, Fillmore, Camarillo, Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Ventura, Oxnard, Ojai, Newbury Park, Westlake Village, and Simi Valley. Please sign up for a shift! Share the link to this with your friends! tinyurl.com/donotsignvc

Background – Deeper Dive

(CFROG – Facebook) “Big Oil lost their PERMIT TO POLLUTE our air, land, and water. NOW THEY’RE TRYING TO BUY IT BACK!” Oil companies operating in Ventura County were using a loophole to evade their responsibility to our environment. Using permits originally issued from the late 1940’s-1960’s, they’ve been avoiding modern requirements designed to protect “public health, precious water supplies, public lands and the environment,” stated Rebecca August of the Los Padres Forest Watch. Liz Beall, of Climate First: Replacing Oil & Gas added: “Antiquated permits never expired. They allow for indefinite expansion without regulation. So long as they were allowed, they made Ventura County’s modern oil and gas regulations essentially meaningless.”

The oil companies are asking for a privilege to stop progress not accorded to us mere mortals. After we receive our first driver’s license, for example, we are allowed to drive with that card in our pocket until accident, death, or worried adult children hide our keys. However, each new car we add to our garage is required to comply with progressively more stringent anti-smog requirements, and safety equipment, as science and engineering merge to protect our air supply and our lives. And no matter when we obtained our license, we are expected to learn and comply with new driving laws every year.

House remodels are another example of required improvements. Although your house may have been permitted back in the 1940’s, a bathroom plumbing remodel will require you to replace that elderly toilet with a low-flow fixture to conserve scarce water supplies, and if you add enough square footage, you’ll need to retrofit the whole house with a fire-sprinkler system, to save your life and those of first responders. We are not allowed to grandfather our cars, our driving, or our homes, under ancient permits, like oil and gas companies expect to do.

This industry’s toxic loophole closed in November, when the Ventura County’s citizens convinced the Board of Supervisors to require modern review standards for all new oil wells, no matter when a company’s operations were originally permitted. In response, a political action committee, formed by people in Bakersfield and San Rafael and sponsored by Aera Energy LLC and the California Independent Petroleum Association (CIPA) is circulating the petitions to repeal this decision before the new regulations take effect on Dec. 10 in the unincorporated areas of the county, where numerous drilling operations are located. These are not all mom-and-pop small businesses. Aera Energy LLC  is jointly owned by Shell Oil Company and ExxonMobil and CIPA is a trade organization of ±500 companies that “operate in CA”, including some like Aera, that are world-wide corporations.

There is a choice involved here. Since the oil industry insists that “rigorous systems of oversight are already in place as managed by the state of California and other environmental agencies,” they could be spending their money cleaning up old oil wells, supporting their workers during the COVID crisis, or transitioning their business model to a clean energy future. Instead, they’ve chosen to use their very deep pockets to privilege themselves above our right to a cleaner environment, paying campaign staff to gather signatures for a referendum by petition. “This effort could overturn a fair and balanced ordinance adopted by our county to ensure the most basic environmental review before drilling new wells.”  If they succeed, they will either force the the Board of Supervisors to repeal their ruling or send it to an election, which we get to pay for.

We have a choice too. Don’t sign their petition. Pass it on.

Reading

  • (vcreporter) Oil Drilling Permit Rules Challenged – Signatures Sought to Reverse Supervisor’s Vote.
  • (lpfw.org) Ventura County Tightens Outdated Oil Permitting to Better Protect Public Health, Water Supplies, and the Environment
  • (lpfw.org) Ventura County Takes Another Step Toward Updating Antiquated Oil Permitting Laws

We’re not good at figuring out our best interests in the voting booth…

According to CA election results, almost a quarter million Californians fell for Prop. 22’s $204 million dollar disinformation campaign, which allows companies such as Uber and Lyft to return to their exploitative business model of treating human beings as disposable parts, instead of employees. This model is so rapacious, that even a well-placed Republican has spoken out against it.

In a LA Times interview, Scott Minerd, chief investment officer for Guggenheim Partners, discussed why he voted against the proposition. “A large percentage of these people are doing it to supplement their income, and if you actually figure it out, which most people don’t, or at least I don’t think the average person understands, is that the amount these people are earning is the equivalent of probably like the depreciation and service of their automobile. So if you are unemployed, or you are marginally employed, and you need income and you’d like to monetize the value of your automobile by being a driver, it’s a great way to turn your asset into cash. That doesn’t really sound like a fair economic deal to meI am an overseer of the Hoover Institution, right? I favor free enterprise and support free enterprise, but there is a difference between free enterprise and exploitation. I voted not to exempt these people. I think they should be treated like employees and paid a wage.

We are tired of “business models” that push the “bottom-of-the-barrel” economy even lower, and energy corporations who use their power to convince us that they aren’t poisoning us, rather than to make substantive changes for this new century. Fight back. Seriously. It can be done. In September, “Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to enact a just-transition task force focused on plugging and remediating nonproductive oil wells in unincorporated parts of the county. This historic vote advances a just transition as a critical component to addressing the intersecting issues of climate justice, economic justice, and public health.” 

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