Spending $8 Million, Oil and Gas Industry Overturns Ventura County Environmental Regulations

The defeat of Measures A and B lets oil and gas operators avoid common-sense environmental review using antiquated permits.

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Climate and Energy

Ventura, CA – Backed by an $8 million war chest, the oil and gas industry succeeded in defeating Measures A and B, two ordinances that would have closed a dangerous loophole allowing oil and gas drillers to avoid modern environmental review using antiquated permits with no expiration date. The vote overturns a decision by the Ventura County Board of Supervisors in 2020 requiring all new drilling operations to abide by modern environmental standards regardless of permit date.

The vote is the latest in a nearly two year battle between community members and environmental justice activists and fossil fuel giants like Aera Energy and Chevron. Only three days after the initial Ventura County Board of Supervisors’ decision in 2020, Aera Energy spent $1 million on signature gatherers to put the issue back on the ballot. Once that happened, oil and gas interests poured additional millions of dollars into the hyperlocal campaign, making this the most expensive ballot issue in Ventura County’s history despite the ordinances only applying to new drilling operations. They used dark money to overturn common sense regulations passed by Ventura’s elected representatives; not one individual donor is listed in their campaign finance reports. 

“Big Oil has set a terrifying precedent,” said Food & Water Watch Central Coast Organizing Manager and Yes on Measures A & B Campaign Lead Tomás Rebecchi. “Ventura County’s families know that our communities’ health is not for sale at any price. We are no one’s sacrifice zone. But it’s increasingly clear that fossil fuel companies not only threaten the safety of our communities and climate, they’re also unraveling our democratic processes. And if Big Oil can buy its way out of a democratic decision for $8 million in a tiny county in California, where will they go next? This may be Ventura County’s fight, but it’s a defeat for the whole country.”

Led by environmental justice and community activists, the grassroots Yes on Measures A & B campaign headed the effort to pass Measures A and B. Ventura-based clothing outfitter Patagonia added a donation of $450,000 to the primarily individual contributions.

“We’re deeply disappointed that Measures A & B failed,” said Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert. “I want to thank all the activists from the VC Safe campaign who knocked on doors, picked up the phone and rallied the community to push back against Big Oil’s lies and money. This is just one loss in an ongoing campaign to save the home planet. We’ll be back at it tomorrow.” 

Contact: Jessica Gable – [email protected]