Baykeeper Update

Oil Rigs—in the Bay Area?

Despite a declining demand for oil, the greedy fossil fuel industry is trying to push through as many new dirty projects as possible, including right here in the Bay Area.

Contra Costa County recently fast-tracked an oil drilling project at a long-shuttered oil field. The site is in Brentwood, next to Sand Creek, which flows into the Delta and San Francisco Bay. The site is also only about 1,000 feet from homes and half a mile from an elementary school.

So we're pushing back. Baykeeper submitted legal and technical comments detailing how the county is putting its residents at unacceptable risk and needs to do better.

Drilling for oil is an inherently dangerous activity—and the Brentwood site’s proximity to people and water makes this proposal especially alarming. In addition to the constant threat of explosions and spills, communities living near drilling sites face a higher incidence of cancer, heart and respiratory diseases, low birth weight, and other health problems. Oil and the hazardous chemicals used in the extraction process can leak into the watershed and groundwater supply, poisoning drinking water.

The proposed Brentwood project is also a threat to native wildlife and habitat. Sand Creek feeds into Marsh Creek, which is home to four species listed under the Endangered Species Act, including the California red-legged frog and San Joaquin kit fox, as well as two threatened fish species.

Even more concerning, the county failed to place restrictions on the scope of the project if oil is discovered. That means the oil industry could conduct harmful fracking (the process of injecting water, sand, and toxic chemicals underground at high pressure to extract oil or gas) under the current proposal.

We’re standing strong with community justice advocates and environmental partners, including Sierra Club, Sunflower Alliance, the Center for Biological Diversity, and No Drilling in Brentwood, to oppose the project. Now is the time for Contra Costa to transition away from dirty fossil fuel production and move towards clean energy—not enable an industry that causes death and disease, and contributes to the global climate crisis.

Take action to defend Brentwood communities and the Bay-Delta from oil drilling! Reach out to the director of Contra Costa County’s Department of Conservation and Development, John Kopchik, to voice your concerns. You can also join No Drilling in Brentwood’s Facebook group to find more ways to engage in community activism to oppose oil drilling in our neighborhoods.