Here we go again.
At the direction of the Board of Supervisors, the Ventura County Planning Commission is pursuing new policies designed to shut down local oil and gas production – despite the fact that voters rejected the idea at the ballot just two months ago.
Just like with Measures A & B, which voters soundly defeated in June, the new proposals are targeting local energy production permits through changes to county zoning ordinances.
The policies would not decrease local energy demands, but rather would increase the County’s already heavy dependence on expensive foreign oil imports – driving energy prices even higher at a time when working families are struggling to make ends meet.
Proponents for the arbitrary zoning changes ignore how California oil is produced under the most stringent environmental, public health, and safety regulations on the planet, with more than two dozen state and federal agencies already overseeing every step of the production process.
Residents spoke out against the new proposals at a Planning Commission hearing last month, arguing that the local oil and gas industry supports more than 2,000 high paying jobs and more than $50 million in tax revenues for vital community services.
While shutdown advocates like to mischaracterize energy permitting in the County as quick and easy, in reality it takes years for local companies to apply for and receive a permit. Further burdening the process with arbitrary and duplicative rules and limits will only discourage energy companies from investing in County projects and eliminate jobs for local workers.
In addition to the permitting changes, the proposals also include unnecessary new policies in two areas already regulated at the state level: idle well management and insurance bonding.
- Under the policies, Ventura County would create a costly and duplicative oil well management program, despite the fact that plugging, decommissioning, and remediation of oil and gas sites is already managed by the California Geological Energy Management Division (CalGEM) within the California Department of Conservation.
- The proposals would also dramatically increase surety and insurance coverage requirements for oil development activities, despite the fact that CalGEM already requires these coverages under AB 1057 (2019). One insurance expert with experience purchasing policies for oil and gas companies in the region called the requirements “prohibitively expensive” and “not feasible” in practice, questioning whether underwriters would even agree to the County’s new terms.
Bottom line, Ventura County voters have already considered and decided this issue. Their message on Measures A & B was clear: Stop trying to shut down local oil and gas production.
Why is the County trying to revisit a simple question that was just decided by voters?