Last night - Ojai MAC takes No action - TONIGHT Ojai City council to hear about Mirada Petroleum/Agnew Lease project in Upper Ojai
Last night the Ojai Valley Municipal Advisory Council (MAC) reviewed a project proposed by Santa Paula based Mirada Petroleum at the Agnew Lease, off Koenigstein Road in Upper Ojai. View the project information HERE.
The MAC took no action on the project, the meeting was labeled a "public forum." The MAC is an advisory group that reviews and comments on projects in the Ojai area.
Tonight the project will be reviewed by the Ojai City Council, 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 401 S. Ventura Street, Ojai, CA 93023.
County planning is taking this project before the MAC and city council following a map error. The error was detected by the watch dog group Citizens for Responsible Oil and Gas (CFROG). County officials say the error, which showed the project being outside the boundaries of the Ojai Valley Area Plan (OVAP), was a simple mistake and they are re-examining the project per the parameters of the OVAP.
County planners and CFROG members are in disagreement about how certain air quality standards should be applied to the project. CFROG says the stricter rules laid out in the OVAP are not trumped by the wells being permitted by the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District (VCAPCD), whereas County planning staff state because the new wells would be permitted as part of the APCD emission reduction program the well emissions are not included in the overall project emission calculations per the OVAP.
View the Ojai Valley Area Plan here:
CFROG is not calling for a denial of the project, but further study and a full environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). CFROG members called for the full engagement of the public process - that is the cornerstone of CEQA - providing all data, testing and evidence used to make determinations to the public, so folks can see the methodology behind the findings.
Last night, Ojai resident Russ Baggerly said to the MAC, "the General Plan is the law of the land," he said "it is illegal" for any guidelines to be in conflict with the General Plan and he viewed the exclusion of air emissions of these wells, even if permitted by the APCD to be in conflict with the General Plan. He pointed to a section of the OVAP which states, "The Planning Division will amend the County Initial Study Guidelines so that the Ventura River Municipal Advisory Council and the City of Ojai will have review authority over all projects in the Ojai Valley Airshed that emit more than 5 lbs./day of NOx and/or ROC." Baggerly pointed out that had not been done, and it makes no mention of exempting emissions when permitted by VCAPCD.
Another part of the project examines truck traffic and the use of Koenigstein Road, which is currently prohibited in the Conditional Use Permit (C.U.P.). Mirada is seeking to modify the C.U.P to allow use of the Koenigstein Road. The route allowed in the current permit, which travelled through the nearby Ojai Oil lease, was washed out in a flood in the 90's. Since then Mirada, and other oil companies, have been using Koenigstein Road in violation of their permits.
Local residents say it should not be allowed with out further study, the intersection at Highway 150 is to small, with blind curves and too much traffic. County staff said it has been studied, and deemed to be safe, because of the nearly 4,000 truck trips that have occurred with no accidents. When the C.U.P was modified in 1983, the Board of Supervisors found truck traffic at that intersection to be unsafe and therefore made it prohibited.
The OVAP states, "Conditions applied to conditional use permits for oil and gas exploration and development will be enforced to the maximum extent feasible in order to protect the health and welfare of the citizens and the character of the Ojai Valley." (Programs, Sect. 1.3.3 under Mineral Resources).
The Ojai City Council also has review and comment authority.
GIS Map, showing all active, idle and cancelled wells. Excludes buried and abandoned wells. There are 210 Active oil wells in the Ojai Oil Field, which stretches from the Upper Ojai Valley through the lower Valley to the area near Casitas Springs. Created by Vickie Peters, Geojournalist. Used with permission.