Ventura, CA – Recently released campaign documents reveal oil giant Aera Energy, owned jointly by Exxon and Shell Oil, has spent $5 million to fight Measures A and B, two ballot initiatives that would eliminate loopholes which allow oil companies to drill in Ventura County with no modern environmental review. That could break the record for fossil fuel interest contributions to a referendum campaign in the county.
In 2020, Aera Energy was among the fossil fuel interests who spent upwards of $1 million three days after the Ventura County Board of Supervisors voted to eliminate the antiquated permit loopholes for new drilling projects. The money bought enough signature gatherers to put the issue back on the ballot in the form of Measures A and B. Voting “yes” on Measures A and B will reinstate the protections against antiquated drill permits initially voted on by the Board of Supervisors.
“This is just the beginning of a tsunami of money and misinformation Big Oil is going to flood Ventura County with,” said Tomás Morales Rebecchi, Food & Water Watch Central Coast Organizing Manager and a VC-SAFE campaign leader. “But Aera Energy leaders are mistaken if they believe millions in misinformation will fool Ventura County voters into giving up protections for their water, farms and communities. We will not allow fossil fuel interest groups with massive warchests to dictate our future and subvert our democracy. More than 1,000 oil wells sit within half a mile of Ventura County homes, and 60 percent of those homes are located in communities of color. This is a grassroots fight for environmental justice, public health and a livable future. Aera Energy’s fight is for their bottom line and corporate greed.”
The VC-SAFE (Ventura County Save Agriculture and Freshwater for Everyone) coalition comprises environmental, social justice and public health advocates working to pass Measures A and B to protect Ventura’s aquifers, communities and farms from oil drilling using antiquated permits.
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Important: In General Plan: “When they approved the 2040 General Plan in 2020, the supervisors approved policies to allow and encourage continued oil development in Ventura County, but also required that any new drilling comply with the modern environmental standards applied in other jurisdictions in California and the country. These standards were developed in the General Plan update process that took place over four years, including many hundreds of hours of meetings and public hearings, with input from energy, economic and environmental experts.”
“In 2020 the Ventura County Council’s office presented the supervisors with a legal opinion telling them there was no legal reason to keep the loophole. Later that year the board closed the loophole, requiring new projects on properties with antiquated permits to comply with the same standards and conditions that are applied to all other new oil development projects.”