Thousands of new oil wells in Ventura County were drilled and continue to operate under “antiquated” permits issued up to 75 years ago—before environmental and human health impacts were known, and long before bedrock environmental laws existed. Most antiquated permits have never undergone environmental review and do not restrict dangerous techniques like fracking. They have no expiration date or restriction on the number of wells drilled, and new wells are often approved behind closed doors without any public notice or hearing.
The Sespe Oil Field is one example. It’s nearby the boundary of the Los Padres National Forest using —one of the most environmentally sensitive areas in Ventura County, adjacent to the Sespe Condor Sanctuary and the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge and bisected by Sespe Creek, a federally-protected river that’s home to endangered steelhead.
Polluting industries tend to locate themselves near small and lower-income communities who have few resources to ward off this kind of development. This project is only several hundred feet from the City of Fillmore’s only supply of drinking and irrigation water.
However, in this case, all Californians are suffering in the thirst for fossil fuel our president is doing nothing to quench. Our state is rated as having the “highest ozone levels” and “worst smog levels” in the country, while Trump just signed an executive order to remove significant environmental review for these kinds of projects. In March, the EPA announced they were also relaxing rules on pollution monitoring during the pandemic.
- Feb. 22/2018: Ventura County put water supply at risk of Oilfield contamination. (Los Padres Forest Watch)
- June 23, 2016: Ventura oil spill misses the ocean, but damage on land is unclear (LATimes) Lawsuit just settled for $1.6 million on July 21, 2020.
- Jan 2015: Californians at Risk: An Analysis of Health Threats from Oil and Gas Pollution in Two Communities (Case studies in Lost Hills and Upper Ojai) (cleanwaterfund.org)
- Draft Report Reveals Significant Environmental Impacts of Frackin in Ventura County’s Sespe Oil Field. (Los Padres Forest Watch)