Pictured: The Agnew Oil Lease operated by Carbon California on Koenigstein Road in Upper Ojai. Google Earth Image. 

by Kimberly Rivers

County hearing on oil permit postponed, again. 

A permit hearing has now been cancelled three times for an oil production project that had to be revised after legal action resulted in the oil company dropping it’s plan to drill additional wells.

The current project does not include any new drilling but does seek permission to use a rural roadway that oil trucks have been using in violation of existing permit terms for decades, and to use a flare to burn off excess natural gas, an aspect of operations also historically prohibited in the original permit condition, even though today the county has allowed flaring to occur.

The hearing with the Ventura County Board of Supervisors was first set for Sept. 22, 2020, that was rescheduled to Jan. 26, 2021, which was taken off calendar at Carbon’s request according to an emailed notice from Boero. A new date of April 27 was noticed in a draft agenda sent out on Monday, April 20. Then at 9 a.m. on April 21, a notice was sent out by Kristina Boero, planner with Ventura County Planning Department stating the hearing previously set for April 27 at 3 p.m., “has been rescheduled to a time a date uncertain,” likely to be reset in “late spring/early summer.”  

The Ventura County Board of Supervisors had been scheduled to consider in a “de novo” or new public hearing whether to grant a modified Conditional Use Permit (CUP) that would allow the ongoing operation of three existing oil and gas wells for 25 years  in the Ojai Oil Field at the Agnew Lease in the Upper Ojai Valley. The lease is operated by Carbon Energy Company, which purchased the lease from Mirada Petroleum. 

The hearing also includes a request that the supervisors certify an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for the project. The oil company was ordered to redo the report from the version last submitted in 2016 because the court found it failed to properly analyze potential impacts from oil tanker truck traffic and to local air quality. 

“The court ordered that the EIR be revised to include additional analysis of the proposed project’s potential air quality and traffic impacts,” states an April 20, 2020 document prepared by the Ventura County Planning Department.The public review of the EIR document took place May 5-June 19, 2020. 

The legal action, brought by Ventura based nonprofit organization Climate First! Replacing Oil and Gas (CFROG), also found the county certified the report in error. 

As a result of the legal action Carbon dropped plans to drill the additional wells, as the Ojai Valley Area Plan requires that level of emissions be found to have a significant impact, triggering a higher level of environmental review. 

Carbon, with offices in Santa Paula and Denver has recently been sued by a former employee related to charges of workplace harassment that included accusations of racially motivated harassment. 

The Environmental Impact Reports for the project are available online at: https://ceqanet.opr.ca.gov/2015021045/3

Disclosure: Kimberly Rivers was executive director of CFROG from May 2016 to Jan. 2019.

Stingray to have no significant environmental impact

On April 13, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors accepted correspondence dated March 5, 2021 from Capt. J.E. Chism, Commanding Officer, U.S. Navy, stating that the Final Environmental Assessment for the home basing of 20 MQ-25 Stingray Carrier-Based Unmanned Aircraft Systems at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, “would have no significant impacts on the quality of the human environment,” and that further impact statements are not required. A finding of “No Significant Impact” has been issued. 

MQ-25 Stingray Carrier-Based Unmanned Aircraft System. Photo from U.S. Navy, Final Environmental Assessment.

The documents and details about the project are available online at www.nepa.navy.mil/stingray/Documents/.

Brush clearance for fire season prep

The public is reminded that as part of the Fire Hazard Reduction Program, a defensible space of 100 feet around homes and buildings in fire risk areas is required in the city of Ventura by May 18, 2021. The Ventura County Fire Department has a deadline of June 1. Last year over 18,000 properties in the county received clearance notices that they were required to clear a defensible space around structures.  

Learn more about FHRP and brush clearance requirements at www.cityofventura.ca.gov/FHRP.

CDC vaccine reaction reporting system

A national vaccine reaction reporting system is available online through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the public is reminded that the three vaccines currently available for use have been made available under an “Emergency Use Authorization” and use of the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is part of the monitoring system. 

The tracking of adverse reactions helps the CDC ensure vaccine safety and ensures “the benefits of vaccination continue to outweigh any risks.” 

To report an adverse reaction to any vaccine, including coronavirus vaccines, visit www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/ensuringsafety/monitoring/vaers/index.html or call 1-800-822-7967. 

Johnson and Johnson vaccine paused

On April 13 the CDC and Food and Drug Administration recommended a pause in the administration of the Johnson and Johnson/Janssen single-dose COVID-19 vaccine. 

As of that date, about seven million doses of the vaccine had been administered and a very small number of those who received the vaccine experienced a severe type of blood clot. 

All reports were in women aged 18 to 48 and took place six to 13 days after vaccination. There have been no similar reports of this reaction among the 180 million administered doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. 

The CDC and FDA are studying the issue and suggest that anyone who got the Johnson and Johnson vaccine and experiences any of the following symptoms notify their doctor immediately: severe headache, backache, new neurologic symptoms, severe abdominal pain, shortness of breath, leg swelling, tiny red spots on the skin, or new/easy bruising. 

Details about the CDC guidance on the Johnson and Johnson vaccine are online at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/JJUpdate.html