A plan to drill four new oil wells at an existing one-acre oilfield processing operation near mobile home parks in Oxnard has spurred a coalition of environmental justice activists to appeal the proposal and gather signatures from local residents in opposition.
Two organizations, Food and Water Watch (a statewide environmental group) and local group CFROG (Citizens for Responsible Oil and Gas), have appealed a permit granted to a Bakersfield oil company to add four oil and gas wells to existing operations in the Cabrillo oil-field area two miles west of Highway 101. This is on unincorporated land near Oxnard but under county jurisdiction.
The proposal, introduced as a modification to an existing permit by Renaissance Petroleum of Bakersfield, was approved by the Ventura County Planning Division in April. The company plans to drill four new wells on the existing pad, separate oil and natural gas from water produced at the four new wells, truck the oil and pipe the natural gas off site, and reinject oilfield produced water back into one designated well on site, according to the permit. The site is located within half a mile of the Oxnard Pacific Mobile Home Estates and the Silver Wheel Mobile Home Park.
In a statement to the Oxnard City Council, the company said that the operation utilized existing structures and denied accusations by CFROG that up to 35 wells could be involved.
“The existing Naumann Drillsite provides for one well. The approved permit modification for the Naumann Drillsite provides for an additional four wells for a maximum of five wells on the Naumann Drillsite,” wrote company president Marc Traut in the statement. “The Rosenmund Drillsite [nearby] is permitted for a total of 15 wells. The total of all RenPet wells is the sum of the approved wells for these two drillsites. That sum is 20, not 35.”
In preparation for the appeal, several groups organized by Food and Water Watch have sent activists from Oxnard into the community, going door to door on Saturday mornings, gathering signatures on a petition of opposition to the permit. According to Food and Water Watch organizer Tomás Rebecchi, the organization has nearly 1,700 signatures on file already.
One of the volunteer signature gatherers, Noemi Tungui, said that many people she talks to in the community tell her the same thing.
“Mostly the reaction I encounter is shock,” she said. “People are eager to sign on to the petition.”
The appeal by the environmental groups, which is backed by other activist groups, including Showing Up for Racial Justice, or SURJ, and CAUSE, the Central Cause Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, will be heard by the Ventura County Planning Division on Sept. 7.