Extremists have aggressively pushed a radical energy ideology on Ventura County, using false claims to convince government officials to ban production and sneak unvetted policies into the county’s 2040 General Plan behind the public’s back.
But as public comment wraps on the General Plan this week, the war on oil and gas comes at a perilous moment for Ventura County. On the brink of recession with tens of thousands of people leaving the region, now is not the time for Ventura County to hurt an industry supplying thousands of good-paying jobs and millions in tax revenues.
This past summer, the Ventura County Civic Alliance released its 2019 State of the Region Report, which found the region continues to struggle with “anemic” economic growth. The report’s author, Tony Biasotti, told reporters that “the fact remains that Ventura County’s economy is either in recession or very close to recession the last few years.”
According to the Center for Economic Research and Forecasting at California Lutheran University, the region’s economic output shrank in 2016 and 2017 when adjusted for inflation, and the county’s GDP grew just 0.1 percent in 2018. Ventura’s economic output over the past five years averaged 0%, the weakest five-year period on record.
Adding to the negative economic outlook is the fact that residents are fleeing Ventura County by the tens of thousands. The Ventura County Star reported last month that “the Census Bureau says more than 35,000 people left Ventura County between 2013 and 2017 … citing affordability concerns.” California Lutheran’s 2019 economic forecast called population decline “the latest and perhaps the most arresting, sign of weakness” for the Ventura region’s economy.
So, despite a contracting economy, tens of thousands of residents leaving, and high-paying industries disappearing, Ventura County leaders continue to work alongside radical activists to aggressively push the oil and gas industry out of the region.
Perhaps these leaders need to be reminded of a few realities: ending oil and gas production in Ventura County would blow a $1 billion annual hole in the regional economy, destroy 2,100 high-paying jobs, and cut $21 million per year in taxes from government coffers – funds that pay for vital community services like K-12 schools, police departments, fire departments, and other social services.
Now is not the time for Ventura County to reject oil and gas.