February 23, 2024
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Letter to the Editor: Vote yes on A and B to hold oil companies to modern environmental standards


Dear Editor,

With oil prices high, there is more incentive to ramp up oil drilling, including next to homes and schools. Ventura County residents need to vote “yes” on Measures A and B if they want that development to face environmental review — like every other kind of development — and to meet current laws including setbacks from homes and schools.

In Ventura County, oil companies have been able to flout health and safety laws by operating under old permits issued last century, before the state created environmental review. Those “antiquated” permits cover 127,000 acres in Ventura County and have no expiration dates or limits on the number of wells.

Large swaths of Ventura, Oxnard, Santa Paula, Camarillo, Fillmore, Simi Valley, as well as Ventura beaches and waterways are potential drilling sites, including mere feet from homes. Numerous studies show the dangerous health effects of living within 2 miles of an oil well, including asthma, cancer and low birthweight in newborn babies.

To protect residents, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors closed this loophole, requiring new projects go through environmental review regardless of the age of the original permit. They also adopted a General Plan that calls for a 2,500-foot health and safety buffer between wells and homes and schools. The oil industry responded aggressively, suing the county and launching a petition to halt the change and put it on the ballot.

At a time when Ventura County is threatened by climate-fueled wildfires and drought, and the United Nations calls for “urgent action” on climate change, we should be building the clean energy economy of the future. Instead, the oil industry wants forever rights to drill near homes and schools and is suing the county, seeking to overturn laws and legal precedent, and spending millions on a ballot fight to get their way.

Vote “yes” on Measures A and B to defend Ventura County’s laws and make sure that high oil prices don’t result in destructive and unregulated oil drilling. The real solution to high prices is to reduce our reliance on oil and gas by increasing renewable energy and electrifying buildings and cars — not by drilling next to people’s homes.

Katie Davis
Chair, Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter
Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties