April 19, 2013
Kimberly Rivers, OVN correspondent
Monday, April 22 at 7 p.m. at the Ojai Art Center, 113 S. Montgomery Street in Ojai, the Ojai Valley Democrats will host a panel on hydraulic fracturing or fracking. The oil and gas well completion process involves injecting water, sand and chemicals under high pressure into deep oil and gas wells, to fracture the hard, dense shale rock formations, releasing oil and gas trapped in the rock. New technology is allowing access to oil and gas plays across the nation, including the Monterey Shale formation lying under Ventura County and the Ojai Valley. Lawmakers, the public and environmental groups are tracking the uptick in activity of the oil and gas industry in the area and since there are no regulations in California specific to fracking, some are raising concerns.
Panelists will include RL Miller, nationally recognized environmental blogger and newly elected chairperson of the State Democrats environmental caucus; Marianne Ratcliff, journalist and 19-year resident of Upper Ojai; John Davis, resident of Upper Ojai, architect and blogger at Urban Wildland.
In February, the Ventura County Planning Department held the public hearing for Mirada Oil’s application for nine new and two exploratory wells to be added to an existing conditional use permit on an oil field in Upper Ojai. Several Upper Ojai residents attended the County Planning hearing, and most expressed objections to the changes, pointing out that no environmental review was conducted regarding the cumulative effects. Mirada owner, Scott Price indicated that he had no plans to frack any of the wells.
Also noted in the notice is the 1970’s court case, Whitman v. County of Ventura, where Mr. Whitman, now in his 80s and still living in Upper Ojai, sued the county regarding their issuance of conditional use permits in Upper Ojai without conducting the necessary environmental review that would consider the cumulative effects of adding wells. Whitman prevailed, the county was found to have issued the permits in violation of the law and the case still stands as precedent.