May 28, 2024
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Letter to the Editor: Vote yes on Measures A and B in Ventura County


Dear Editor,

There is an active oil well on our Rincon-Vitova Insectaries business property in the Ventura oil field. It was drilled in 1945 on the site of a migrant farm worker camp. The dormitory buildings that we use to grow beneficial insects for biological pest control were built much earlier in 1922. My father bought the property in 1967. That well and at least a dozen others nearby had been drilled decades earlier next to residences and workplaces that originally supported the citrus industry. Enhanced oil recovery methods did not develop until around 2004.

We believed then that with “peak oil” there would be a decline in oil production — not what has happened, the resurgence of over 20 wells within 1,500 feet of us. There are risks for chronic health problems within 2,500 feet of a well. We should have moved. Business is good, but never profitable enough to do so. Since I took over, I have wondered, “What are we doing living and employing people surrounded by oil wells?” We’re dedicated to our mission and jobs creation; we live in a compromised situation.

Measures A and B are on the ballot because Aera Energy and Chevron want to overturn modern health and safety review for new drilling on “antiquated” permits. Measures A and B modernize review for expanded drilling on permits like the one at our business entrance. If “No” wins, this will be the easiest place in the state to expand drilling.

Wells on old permits need more environmental review, if they are near residences. These wells were drilled near properties where people had lived and worked in agriculture for decades prior.

Aera Energy operates the wells around us. We have tried to be good neighbors, because the restrictions on our deed make us dependent on their good will to operate our business.

How is Aera’s business model in jeopardy from Measures A and B? Oil here is too thick for gasoline. Production goes on as usual at 3,800 wells, unless they want to expand.

Aera appears unconcerned about the people on residential and business properties that were here before the oil wells. All new drilling on very old permits should undergo review — the same normal environmental review that has been required for the 1,653 drilling permits issued after 1970.

If our business applied to do a major project, we’d be subject to environmental review requirements. Why should Aera be exempt?

Jan Dietrick
President, Rincon-Vitova Insectaries