No New Oil and Gas Drilling in Contra Costa!

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors and Department of Conservation and Development Planning Staff

Deer Valley Road Pumpjacks

The writing is on the wall: we must phase out fossil fuels. To that end, we are asking you, our decision-makers and planners, to end new permitting of oil and gas drilling and phase out existing drilling, with protective provisions for those fossil fuel workers whose jobs could be impacted.

This is exactly what the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to do on September 15, 2021. Oil and gas drilling is a much larger part of the economy and has a far longer history in Los Angeles than in Contra Costa. But Los Angeles supervisors were not afraid to take this necessary and historic step.

Still not convinced? Let’s look at yet another neighbor to the south. Alameda County banned fracking in 2016, and in July of 2018 it revoked a conditional use permit for its operating wells, effectively banning oil drilling.

And what about Contra Costa?

In the summer of 2019, County planners approved exploratory oil drilling on Deer Valley Road just outside of Antioch, a half-mile from Dozier-Libbey Medical High School and Kaiser Antioch, and close to several residences.  They did this knowing the well-documented dangers this drilling poses to air quality and public health, and its contribution to a rapidly accelerating climate crisis.

A second permit application for oil drilling came their way in spring 2020, for a site just a few hundred feet from Brentwood homes. The planners declared there were no negative environmental impacts. It took a massive public outcry before they even agreed to perform an environmental review, now currently underway.

Only a year after County planners rubber-stamped that first permit—which enabled the revival of oil drilling in Contra Costa County after a fifty-year hiatus—our Board of Supervisors passed a Climate Emergency Resolution invoking the serious threats of climate change and pledging to phase out fossil fuel dependence in the county.   But in the meantime, those Deer Valley Road pump jacks just keep on pumping.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an international energy agency, recently warned that to maintain a livable planet, all fossil fuel production must end before the end of the decade.   And yet, Contra Costa continues to waffle—talking “mitigation” instead of a clean break with the destructive extractive practices of our past.

We have no more time to lose.   Contra Costa needs to protect the health and safety of its residents and join the ranks of those governmental climate leaders who are blazing a path into an equitable clean energy future.

Soon you will ask us to comment on the revised County General Plan, which spells out policy directives for all County rule-making, including those concerning oil and gas infrastructure.   And you'll release the draft Environmental Impact Report on the proposed Brentwood oil drilling, calling for another round of public comment.

But first we ask you to look to the examples of Alameda, Los Angeles, and countless other counties and municipalities throughout California and the U.S.  Let's end all new permitting of oil and gas infrastructure, phase out existing drilling in Contra Costa, and transition our fossil fuel workers to good careers in climate-friendly industries.   It can—and should—happen here.

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To: The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors and Department of Conservation and Development Planning Staff
From: [Your Name]

Please look to the examples of Alameda, Los Angeles, and countless other counties and municipalities that prioritize the health and safety of their residents, and climate protection, by saying no to fossil fuels. Let's end all new permitting of oil and gas infrastructure, phase out existing drilling in Contra Costa, and transition our fossil fuel workers to good careers in climate-friendly industries. We can do it here!