For Immediate Release
Ventura, CA – At a virtual, bilingual forum hosted by California State Senator Monique Limón and Assemblymember Steve Bennett in partnership with the Westside Clean Air Coalition, over 300 local residents engaged with three regulatory agencies to ask why there has been no Environmental Impact Report on the SoCalGas compressor station’s expansion at 1555 N. Olive Street in Ventura. Participants included members of the Westside Clean Air Coalition including Food & Water Watch, Manos Unidas, Patagonia, CFROG, and CAUSE.
“For too long, the people of Ventura have been left out of discussions relating to this gas compressor when they are the ones who will live with the consequences of its expansion,” said Sofia Rubalcava, Mayor of Ventura. “It is the responsibility of the California Public Utilities Commission and Governor Newsom to ensure an Environmental Impact Report is conducted with speed and transparency. Ventura’s Westside community deserves answers and clean air.”
At issue are two phases of the project located in a disadvantaged community: one is the remediation and removal of over 2,500 tons of soil heavily contaminated with lead and other carcinogens, and the other is the long term expansion of the compressor site at 1555 N. Olive Street. Labeled a methane “super-emitter” by NASA, the compressor station sits 70 feet from where children attend the E.P. Foster Elementary School and Ventura Boys & Girls Club. The California Public Utilities Commission has requested SoCalGas provide an alternatives analysis on the compressor project, but they have yet to require an EIR which would include an independent alternatives analysis and a health impact assessment.
“The California Public Utilities Commission has the authority to halt this expansion project until an Environmental Impact Review is performed and they have done the same for similar projects,” said Food & Water Watch Senior Organizer Tomás Rebecchi whose family lives a few blocks from the compressor site. “Requiring SoCalGas to make its alternatives analysis public was a step in the right direction, but until the full community and public health effects of expanding this gas compressor station are studied, residents and our children are in the dark. Ventura’s Westside is an environmental justice community too long overburdened by pollution and too long left out of discussions that decide the future of our children’s health. We ask Governor Newsom to end that streak of negligence now and direct the CPUC to require an Environmental Impact Report before any other work can continue on this facility.”
Approximately 500 people live within a quarter mile of the facility, and as many as 4,750 live within a half mile radius — close enough to be impacted by a gas explosion.
“My children attend E.P. Foster across the street from the compressor station. Many of their classmates suffer from asthma and nosebleeds as a result of the pollution in our community. We deserve to feel safe when sending our children to school and Governor Newsom and the PUC should give us that peace of mind by shutting down this compressor now,” said Isba Silva with Manos Unidas and parent of E.P. Foster students.
Click here for a recording of the meeting.
Contact: Jessica Gable, [email protected]