VC Planning Approves new wells at Punchbowl Trail near Thomas Aquinas college - Groups might appeal.
In a letter dated Feb. 17 and emailed to interested parties that evening, Ventura County Planning Director has announced the approval of project PL13-0150. The applicant California Resources Corporation (formerly Vintage Petroleum) will be allowed to drill 19 new wells in an area near Thomas Aquinas College in the Upper Ojai area along highway 150. This area is along the popular hiking trail leading to the "punchbowl" - a favorite swimming spot for local hikers.
The wells will be drilled on existing oil well pads, and in an oil field that is currently active. The project does not call for any new construction nor grading, but concerns were raised at the public hearing in January regarding environmental impacts and the need to a more thorough environmental review.
Click here to read more information about the project and the objections raised at the public hearing.
Those who may wish to file an appeal have ten days - until Feb. 27 - in which to do so before the decision takes effect. Two groups, Citizens for Responsible Oil and Gas and Los Padres Forest Watch (both groups attended the initial public hearing in Jan and raised concerns at that time) indicated if their concerns were not addressed in conditions of approval they would likely file an appeal.
As of this morning, those groups had not yet confirmed whether they would file.
Here is the letter from Director Prillhart: