Ventura, CA – SoCalGas will face opposition from the Ventura City Council in its push to charge customers for resuming work on its natural gas compressor station on 1555 N. Olive Street. The Council voted to become a formal party in the General Rate Case proposed by SoCalGas, a document that outlines the utility’s plans for customer rate increases and breaks down the cost by project. SoCalGas has included costs of expanding the controversial compressor site after abruptly announcing resumption of work in June.
In August 2021, the CPUC halted the expansion of the controversial site until SoCalGas could conduct environmental review and thorough community engagement. But at Monday’s City Council meeting, community and environmental advocates from the Westside Clean Air Coalition made it clear during public comment that these measures are wholly inadequate.
“SoCalGas has met none of the criteria laid out by the CPUC to begin work on the gas compressor again,” said Food & Water Watch Central Coast Organizing Manager Tomás Rebecchi. “Charging customers for this work only adds insult to injury after SoCalGas’ inaccessible and insincere “town hall” meetings. Ventura’s Westside community is tired of being the sacrifice zone of fossil fuel interests like SoCalGas, and we’re definitely not going to pay for fossil fuel infrastructure that pollutes our neighborhoods and environment. We’re proud that our City Council is with us in this fight with us.”
Community opposition to the expansion of the compressor station — listed by NASA as a methane “super-emitter” — has grown over the past two years. Both the Ventura County Board of Supervisors and the Ventura City Council have called for SoCalGas to choose a different site for the fossil fuel facility, currently situated across the street from an elementary school.
From Kristian Nunez, Policy Advocate with the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE): “As a longtimeS resident of the Westside of Ventura who lives blocks away from the SoCalGas compressor station, I’m urging Ventura City Council to intervene in SoCalGas’ GRC application to the CPUC. SoCalGas continues to disregard the concerns from our community and is using the GRC to sneakily move forward with their expansion plans, which will pose serious dangers to the health and safety of my family, community and environment. Although City Council does not have local control over this project, they still have the ability to do more to influence the outcome of this project at the state level.”
“We have coworkers living near the current site who have a variety of concerns,” said Jan Dietrick, owner of Rincon-Vitova Insectaries. “I also hope the city will call on businesses to move away from fossil fuels. It’s been worth the investment for our company when we cut gas use by 90% through electrification and solar heating and water heating. The city and businesses should partner to lead the way on decarbonization to reduce costs, increase profits and ensure energy security as well as health and safety.”
From Hans Cole, Director of Campaigns and Advocacy for Patagonia: “SoCalGas’ gas compressor is only 1.5 miles away from Patagonia’s offices and puts the well-being of our employees, West Ventura residents, and environment at risk. By disregarding community input and the CPUC’s criteria to resume construction of the gas compressor, SoCalGas continues to subject the community to toxic pollution and deny the right to clean air and a healthy life in West Ventura. As California moves towards aggressively addressing the climate crisis and reducing demand for fossil fuels, we know that fossil fuel expansion projects have no future in our communities. Ventura must begin to show real climate justice leadership in these state-wide efforts and address the devastating effects of oil and gas infrastructure near our homes and schools.“
According to SoCalGas, the estimated costs for the project have skyrocketed from $133 million to $421 million in the current GRC.