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Western U.S. water supplies are rapidly shrinking as a result of long-term drought. Ventura County’s underground aquifers — our water for homes and farming — are especially vulnerable because old rules allow petroleum companies to continue drilling practices that could contaminate them. That’s why your YES vote on Measures A and B in the June 7 election is vitally important. They are amendments to zoning ordinances that county supervisors adopted in November 2020. The oil industry immediately challenged them, hiring signature gatherers to put the measures on the ballot as a referendum and raising more than $8 million to oppose them. The amendments require new oil and gas wells to comply with modern environmental review processes and regulatory standards and address regulatory deficiencies in county oil permits issued before the 1970s, of which there are hundreds. The old permits have no time limits — modern permits are generally limited to 50 or fewer years — and allow companies to drill unlimited new wells anywhere within their permit boundaries. Their operational conditions are general, limited in scope, and do not allow environmental review of proposed wells. In contrast, modern permits are very limited in size, allow wells only in prescribed areas (a few acres for drilling pads), and have conditions that address site-specific issues. Approving A and B creates uniform processes and regulations for all new oil and gas wells being drilled. It does not change the processes or regulations for new wells covered by modern (post-1970s) permits. Recent oil industry mailings falsely claim the measures could shut down existing local oil and natural gas production, raise energy prices, increase dependence on foreign oil, cut county revenue, and put workers out of jobs.

These scare tactics are not based on the facts. - — Don Scott lives in Ventura.