OPINION: Feb. 17: Sespe Wild, CFROG, ForestWatch ask VC Planning Commission to deny new oil permit

2 18 22 Alasdair

Alasdair Coyne, conservation director of Keep Sespe Wild in Ojai, wrote a public comment for the Feb. 18 Ventura County Planning Commission meeting, where appointed officials were asked to deny a 20-year permit for a new oil-drilling permit in the Sespe oil field north of Fillmore. Coyne wrote: "In light of this planetary survival crisis, it can only be termed insane to continue to green-light new oil and gas wells in Ventura County. "


(Editor's note: The Ventura County Planning Commission voted Feb. 17 4 to 0 to approve the new drilling permit, but only for 10 years and also included other recommendations by the environmental group appellants, which allowed them to have their appeal fee refunded.)

Feb. 17, the Ventura County Planning Commission considered an appeal to the county Planning director’s approval of a new oil drilling permit for 20 years in the Sespe oil field north of Fillmore.

Making the appeal is Keep Sespe Wild, Climate First: Replacing Oil & Gas (CFROG), and Los Padres Forest Watch.

To watch the recorded hearing, visit:

Ventura County Planning staff recommended the Ventura County Planning Commission deny the appeal of the Planning director decision approving the new permit. To view the Ventura County Planning Commission packet on the permit and see the letters from the public about the permit, visit:

Alasdair Coyne of Upper Ojai, conservation director of Keep Sespe Wild, has submitted these comments for today’s Planning Commission hearing:

A necessary step to keep Planet Earth habitable

Our county planners are not working to align their project approvals with this new climate reality. Therefore, the citizenry must speak up more and more eloquently, more and more frequently, and more and more forcefully, to leave fossil fuels in the ground.

This does not represent a war on the fossil-fuel industry; it is simply a necessary step to ensure the short- and long-term habitability of Planet Earth, for all future generations to come. There can be no arguing with that fact.

An informed and outraged citizenry must continue to educate both legislators and the broader public about global heating. Although progress is steadily growing with regard to the deployment of green energy sources — solar, wind, tidal, geothermal and others — there is still much more that needs to be done in a very short time period.

We are revolutionizing transportation and energy use at home and in manufacturing, all at once. The costs of not doing enough far outweigh the costs of the green-energy transition. There are so many interrelated issues to tackle. Housing design and insulation, a fossil-fuel reliant agricultural system, a coordinated retreat from rising ocean waters, reforestation where appropriate, the education of our children and students, the transfer of funding and technologies to poor countries that have inadequate resources to meet their climate-change needs.

The list goes on and on —  there is so much to do, for jurisdictions at the local, state and national levels.

In light of this planetary survival crisis, it can only be termed insane to continue to green-light new oil and gas wells in Ventura County. 

The Sespe oilfield's production has been declining fairly steeply in recent years. Their operators simply want to do what they have always done — drill new wells. But their industry is, by definition, now a dying one. Their workers will need to be trained in different fields of work. Their work sites must be gradually and safely closed down.

Ventura County's General Plan requires a 41% cutback in climate-heating gas emissions by 2030. It is absolutely the time simply to say no to all new permits for oil and gas facilities in Ventura County.


Not a subscriber?  choose your subscription plan.