Our Board of Supervisors has for the past 10 years refused to comply with enforcing health and safety codes at the Arroyo Grande Oil Field. They are defying local, State and Federal Codes that mandate an approved Underground Injection Control Class I certification of toxic waste disposal wells before they start extracting and disposing of toxic waste into underground aquifers, streams and subterranean soil.
The Board didn’t seem overly concerned about the community’s water supply that until this year was on emergency drought restrictions. Miraculously AGOF escaped the restrictions and was free to use 1.5 million gallons of fresh water a day to concoct a toxic soup for extraction of asphalt grade crude.
This is a public comment I made to the Board of Supervisors about this issue.
This is the shirt I wore. You state your name before you begin. Public speaking is not always fun. This time it was.
Who am I? I am woman. Jean’ne Blackwell, Hear me roar! (That got a laugh. They thought I was kidding.)
“To summarize the complaint, FOR THE RECORD, THAT I sent to you on Sept 23, 2021, giving you one last chance to do the right thing and order a cease and desist on the unlicensed, illegal AGOF (Arroyo Grande Oil Field) operation or I was going to file a formal complaint with the Department of justice.
YOU FAILED TO RESPOND. SO LET ME just ASK YOU for the record.
What the heck are you doing? You exempted Sentinel from The California Environmental Quality Act? An act that ensures no harm will come to the environment in the pursuit of profits. Are you confident that Sentinel is clean as a whistle and could pass the test? Or are you sure they couldn’t and ARE saving them the expense of making an application you know they are going to fail?
That is like a hospital saying we are not going to bother with sterilizing our equipment because it is not cost effective.
And what is up with no public hearings on the Conditional Use Permit? And don’t give me Covid as an excuse to forge ahead without a public hearing. You allowed the AGOF to operate without licenses and permits for years, all in violations of the conditions precedent to operation before Covid was even an issue.
Is the reason you didn’t hold any hearings was because you knew that without the proper permits and licenses Sentinel could never legally get permission to dump poly, moly. ethyl, methyl, bad shift into our backyard?
And don’t give me the lame excuse that an aquifer exemption is a permit exemption. One does not preclude the other. Title 40 Section 144.11 of THE Code of Federal Regulations unequivocally states that “Any underground injection, WITHOUT A PERMIT is prohibited…. The construction of any well required to have a permit is prohibited until the permit has been issued. NO PERMITS HAVE BEEN ISSUED TO THE ARROYO GRANDE OIL FIELD.
The Arroyo Grande Oil field is required to have a Class I UIC permit IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE RESOURCE CONSERVATION AND RECOVERY ACT. PERIOD. STATE AND FEDERAL AGENCIES HAVE all officially CITED THE AGOF AS NON-COMPLIANT.
There is a flair tower in that Conditional Use Permit. Do you think for one minute that would pass air quality control codes? You knew it wouldn’t and you didn’t care.
You think you have a right to treat us like second-class citizens? Listen up! Your willful intent to allow illegal and unlawful activity at the Arroyo Grande Oil Field most assuredly jeopardized, vandalized and terrorized every aspect of our right to the peaceful and quiet enjoyment of our environment. You are going to make it right.
WE ARE OPERATING UNDER 2 different SET OF RULES. Rules that you opt to enforce and rules that you opt out of enforcing. Opting out is not an option.
If a citizen tried to build a granny unit over their garage without proper permits, you are on them like a swarm of hornets.
Yet the AGOF can build a flair tower that is going to emit toxic, climate alternating chemicals into the air without so much as a mother may I.
A citizen dumps a can of used oil down a storm drain and there are codes that could put them behind bars but an oil company that has greased the right palms get special preferential treatment akin to royalty.
If a citizen forgets to register their vehicle in a timely manner there is a no mercy policy and one is penalized, criminalized and car impounded in short order no questions asked.
But a monster behemoth oil company can escape any and all registering and licensing fees and permits with the help and assistance of official governing bodies that have befriended and anointed them with special dispensations.
Who speaks for the kids, elderly, students, business, trees, water, animals, who are all totally reliant and dependent on elected officials doing their job and doing it right enforcing water and air, health and safety codes?
EVERY PERSON WHO CARES ABOUT EVERY LIVING BEING and who BELIEVES WE ALL HAVE A RIGHT TO BE TREATED WITH RESPECT, AS PERSONS WITH INHERENT, INTRINSIC, VALUE AND WORTH ENTITLED TO EQUAL PROTECTION AND CLEAN AIR, WATER AND SOIL IN PERPETUITY.
You are letting Sentinel get away with murder.
This complaint was sent to the Department of Justice AS PROMISED citing you, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisor, with criminal trespass on our CONSTITUTIONAL rights to be safe and secure in our environment. We are asking for your resignation pending criminal charges forthcoming”
(This got a laugh. They thought I was kidding)
note: I felt we had a right to demand their resignation for failing to do their job and keep us safe. If not us, then who?
I did some grammar and spell changes to the original speech before I posted this.
I wrote to all the agencies and person’s that claimed to have jurisdiction over the enforcement of Health and Safety Codes, even the ones that cited the AGOF for non-compliance, CalGEM aka DOGGER, CAL EPA.
Facts and evidence were provided. One Department responded to our petition signed by hundreds of local residents to shut down the illegal hazardous waste disposal dumping by Sentinel in San Luis Obispo County. “It’s not our job to enforce violations of State Laws and Codes.” California State Attorney General. Really? Whose job, is it?
I filed 3 official Grand Jury complaints citing proof and evidence that BofS failed to enforce local health and safety codes at the AGOF. No action was taken. District attorney can refuse to indict even if the Grand Jury finds cause. Hummmmm
This was not a one woman show. This was a community voicing their concerns and demands. I had letters from 4 local municipalities and a petition with 80,000 signatures, calling for a cease and desist at the AGOF until it was proven a safe and harmless operation. Remember it is not our job to prove it is harmful. The burden of proof is entirely on the applicant to prove it is certifiably safe and meets all safety and health standards and codes. That never happened at the AGOF. Why?
In closing I would just like to say there are far less devastating, deadly, irreversible and irreparable disasters when safety and health codes are followed and enforced. That’s why we have them and why it is so important to enforce them. They should be called Prevention Codes.
New SLO Board of Supervisors on the job as of Jan. 2023. About to witness what a difference one honest to goodness person can make.