Energy Commission to reject Oxnard’s Puente Power Plant

The Energy Commission Committee of the California Energy Commission assigned to the Puente Power project released a statement on Thursday, Oct. 5, a rare occurrence to do so before an official meeting, relaying that the Commission will deny the proposed 262 megawatt plant proposed in Oxnard due to clean energy alternatives’ ability to supply power to the area.

“It is clear to us that the Project will be inconsistent with several laws, ordinances, regulations or standards (LORS) and will create significant unmitigable environmental effects,” writes the committee in statement. “This, in turn, requires us to consider feasible alternatives that avoid or reduce those impacts and inconsistencies.”

For three years, residents, advocates and city of Oxnard officials have battled NRG Energy’s proposed gas plant.

“This is a monumental victory for the thousands of people in Oxnard who have spoken out against our health and environment being sacrificed over and over to dirty energy production,” said Maricela Morales, executive director of the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy.

“This proceeding has shown clean energy can meet reliability needs,” said Matt Vespa, staff attorney at Earthjustice, adding that this decision “marks the end” of new gas plants in the state. “It is now time for Southern California Edison to solicit bids to replace Puente with the clean energy resources the Oxnard community deserves.”

The California Energy Commission was expected to meet on Wednesday, Oct. 11, at 2 p.m., after publication deadline. This story will be updated.

Domestic violence awareness “Paint it Purple” campaign kicks off across County

October is Domestic Violence Prevention Awareness Month and groups county and nationwide are painting their nails purple in solidarity with victims. Interface Children and Family Services will host dozens of events across the county as participation in the campaign.

Ojai’s Lavender Inn owner Kathy Hartley and Ventura County Credit Union CAO Linda Rossi are spearheading the effort, organizing the concept launched in 2016 that saw 29 events reaching 600 people.

“Every nine seconds in the U.S. a woman is assaulted or beaten,” said Rossi, who helped paint nails on volunteers’ hands last year for the event. “Almost every person we interact with has a story or knows someone impacted by domestic violence and is grateful to have a simple way to get help for themselves or for someone they know.”

For more information on events and a downloadable tool-it with resources for hosting a Paint It Purple™ event, visit www.icfs.org/PaintItPurple or contact Laura Everest at leverest@icfs.org.

Oil company seeks exemption for wastewater in Los Padres

Seneca Resources has applied for an exemption from the federal Safe Drinking Water Act to continue discharging wastewater into an underground aquifer beneath the Los Padres National Forest, and the Department of Conservation is accepting public comments on the request now through Nov. 8 at 5 p.m.

In 2016, a statewide investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that Seneca and several other oil companies were discharging wastewater into protected water supplies, after California regulators updated the boundaries of oil fields in the state so that a well used by Seneca for several decades fell outside the boundary. If granted, the exemption would apply to an 8-mile area in the Sespe Oil Field upstream from Fillmore.

“This exemption will make it easier for the oil industry to drill and frack inside the Los Padres National Forest,” said ForestWatch public lands advocate Rebecca August. “It will place water quality, outdoor recreation and wildlife at great risk. The oil company should play by the same rules as the rest of us and not be given special exemptions to inject toxic chemicals into underground aquifers.”

In the exemption application, Seneca says that the aquifer could never be used as drinking water as it is already contaminated by petroleum, due to its use by the oil producer since 1987.

Seneca spokesman Rob Boulware says that the wastewater is naturally occurring.

“I think that it probably gets characterized that you’re dumping wastewater, but the reality is, when you’re drilling in California, this is water that comes up with the oil,” said Boulware. “It’s part of the process; we separate the oil from the wastewater and it’s injected back into the same hydrocarbon zone that it came from.”

The California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources will host a public meeting on the subject on Tuesday, Oct. 24, at 5 p.m. at the Museum of Ventura County, 100 E. Main St. in Ventura.