Ventura County Sides With Community Group in Oil Industry Dispute

By Bill Haff


















Photo: Upper Ojai Valley Oil Rig – photo courtesy CFROG

Tensions over oil industry practices surfaced in Ojai recently when a new community group called Citizens For Responsible Oil and Gas (CFROG) filed successful complaints against Mirada Petroleum’s Upper Ojai Valley operations. CFROG’s watchdog efforts have been prompted by revelations that hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has been occurring unreported for years in the Upper Ojai and elsewhere in Ventura County, viagra 100mg and by accusations that oil companies have routinely ignored regulations for conventional drilling.

The county planning commission confirmed CFROG’s complaint that Mirada falsely claimed it would use an existing site for new drilling, there presumably to avoid required environmental oversight, and that it cleared land and drilled at a site half a mile distance instead. Mirada also failed to file “Notice to Idle” documents for three wells whose access roads had violated previous permits because they presented a hazard where they intersected public Highway 150. The county ordered Mirada to restore land cleared for the new drilling site and to file the delinquent documents. No fines were ordered.

CFROG states it will continue its watchdog role while guidelines develop to address public concerns about well stimulation practices like fracking and acidization {To impregnate with acid; acidify; To treat (a limestone or sandstone formation) with HCl or HF to enlarge void spaces in it}.   California recently passed legislation (SB 4, authored by state Senator Fran Pavley) that is seen as a first step towards establishing regulatory standards for unconventional oil drilling. The industry has resisted regulation of these practices, while environmentalists and community groups around the country have demanded better reporting and monitoring so that assessments can be made, and some have called for a moratorium until safety can be proven.

The largest national efforts have been in New York state, where activists are led by Louis Allstadt, a retired executive VP of Western Hemisphere operations for Mobil Oil. In a recent interview Allstadt characterized well stimulation as an overly aggressive practice that creates the potential for dramatically worse pollution, because the extent and direction of fracturing patterns are less predictable than industry claims, and because reserves can be tapped in geologic formations without the cap rock that usually stops greenhouse gases and other pollutants from migrating up into aquifers, and eventually into the atmosphere. Community groups in California are especially concerned about pollution of already strained water resources, while international concerns are focused on greenhouse gas-induced global warming. Industry denies charges that well stimulation presents a threat to the environment.


Bill Haff is chairperson for the Ojai chapter of Move To Amend, resides in Ojai


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