Contra Costa County’s new oil and gas policy—in its new draft General Plan’s Conservation Element—will be publicly discussed for the first time on Wednesday, May 11 at a 6:30 PM meeting of the county Planning Commission. During public comment we will be presenting a petition calling for prohibition of all new oil and gas drilling and a phaseout of current production. Make sure you and your neighbors have signed the petition before May 8th! At this writing we have broken 3,300 signatures. Please read and sign here. And then be sure to attend the meeting and speak out. This is an all hands on deck moment.
The rigsite pictured above started operating on Deer Valley Road in unincorporated Antioch in the Fall of 2018, and if a certain wildcatter gets his way, there could be rampant drilling for oil all over East Contra Costa. (See our report on the still-pending 2020 Powerdrive proposal for new drilling just outside of Brentwood.) The Deer Valley Road site is only about a half mile away from a major hospital and a high school, soon to be joined by senior housing. The county planning department rubberstamped the operating permit in the summer of 2019—months after it began operation—because of its conformance with the last General Plan, which encouraged oil and gas production on agriculturally-zoned land. The new General Plan will dictate county land use policy through 2040, and we think it should prohibit drilling altogether.
As we all know, this is not exactly the time to be resurrecting fossil fuel production in the Bay Area. The IPCC report—the UN Secretary-General calls it “a code red for humanity”—clearly tells us we need to stop extracting fossil fuels before the end of the decade if we’re to survive climate catastrophe. Isn’t it about time that Contra Costa planners and supervisors took that message to heart?
Los Angeles County has committed to phasing out 1,600 active and inactive wells and transitioning fossil fuel workers to climate-friendly and family-sustaining jobs. If the most populous county in the nation can do it, then so can we.
But instead, Contra Costa planners are proposing to greenlight more oil and gas production over the next twenty years! Under the new General Plan, they will keep approving more oil and gas drilling, calling for unspecified mitigation of its negative impacts. Offering minimal setbacks from “sensitive receptors” is just not good enough. This County declared a Climate Emergency last year and it can and must do better. In fact, it needs to follow the lead of the City of Antioch, which banned oil and gas drilling back in January. And the City of Brentwood, which just placed a 45-day moratorium on drilling while the city attorney develops a permanent ordinance. County planners, are you listening to your East County residents? They’re making their position loud and clear.
The County Conservation, Open Space, and Working Lands Element can be found here.
Tell the County how you feel at these two upcoming meetings:
- Tuesday, May 10, 9 AM, Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, in-person and over Zoom. The agenda with Zoom link is posted here. We will present the No Drilling petition and comment during discussion of non-agenda items.
– Join us at 8:30 AM in front of the County Building at 1025 Escobar St. in downtown Martinez for a press conference before the Board of Supervisors meeting! (Livestream on our Facebook page.) Then testify in the Board chambers. Or just email the supervisors at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Wednesday, May 11, 6:30 PM (via Zoom): Contra Costa County Planning Commission study session on the Conservation Element (new oil and gas policy). Agenda and Zoom link are posted here. You can also email your comments at least the day before the meeting to the commissioners at email@example.com , and to Will Nelson, Principal Planner of Contra Costa County, . And don’t forget the supervisors: firstname.lastname@example.org.