Antioch Council votes to ban oil and gas drilling in city, but owner of permits and rights can still drill, claims it won’t protect environment

Sunset Exploration’s drilling rigs at their Deer Valley Road site just outside Antioch city limits. Herald file photo.

“Local produced oil and gas will be replaced by foreign fuel imports which are significantly more harmful to the environment” – Bob Nunn, Sunset Exploration, owner of the drilling permits in Antioch

By Allen Payton

During their meeting Tuesday night Jan. 11, the Antioch City Council on a 5-0 vote approved a ban on oil and gas drilling, production and exploratory operations in the city in a stated effort to protect the health of residents and the environment. However, Bob Nunn, president of Sunset Exploration which owns permits and rights in Antioch, can still drill when he’s ready and says the action will actually harm the environment more. His company has the oil drilling site off Deer Valley Road south of Kaiser outside both the city limits of Antioch and Brentwood. (See related article) Antioch Oil & Gas Drilling Ban ACC011122

In addition, although he was not made aware of the council’s agenda item by staff or council members, Nunn sent an email to all five council members on Tuesday which pointed to a state report that shows importing oil and gas into California is worse for the environment by a factor of two-thirds than producing it locally.

This breakdown shows the average carbon intensity of California’s imported oil vs. what is produced by Nunn’s company on Deer Valley Road in Brentwood. GHG means greenhouse gases. According to Nunn, these figures are from the State of California’s Air Resources Board. Source: Sunset Exploration.

According to City Attorney Thomas L. Smith, “presently there are no plans for oil or gas drilling in the city. There is a complete permit to allow gas and oil exploration, but that was put on hold.” The council action “will ban oil and gas drilling in the city with no apparent impacts,” he said.

Yet, neither Smith nor any of the council members mentioned the email sent by Nunn:

Sent: 1/11/2022 2:58:11 PM Pacific Standard Time

Subject: Item 9, 01-11-22 Antioch City Council agenda

Dear City Council Members

Re:   Introduction of Ordinance of Amending the Antioch Municipal Code Sections 9-5.3803 and 9-5.3834 to Prohibit Oil and Gas Drilling, Production, and Exploratory Operations as Permitted Uses in the M-2 and S Zones.

I have reviewed the above referenced Ordinance and do not object to the prohibition of future oil and gas permits in the areas referenced therein. However please be advised that my company, Sunset Exploration, Inc., currently has valid permits both within the City of Antioch and Contra Costa County that allow for future oil and gas activities and those rights remain unaffected by this proposed Ordinance.

Furthermore, I have attached a link below from the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which conducts annual crude oil life cycle assessments that compares the environmental impacts of various oil fields in California as compared to the oil California imports. Currently California imports 90% of its natural gas needs and 63% of its crude oil needs. Any oil and gas California does not produce is imported. Ironically, the oil and gas we and others produce in this vicinity emits, on average, 1/3rd the amount of the carbon of foreign sources.

Deer Valley Road oil drilling site production vs. Top CA oil fields 011222. Source: Sunset Exploration

Prohibiting local oil and gas production does not affect the local or statewide demand, but it does increase rather than decrease the environmental impact of oil and gas production and use and does not achieve the stated goal of this Ordinance to reduce air emissions or provide any other environmental benefit.

Local produced oil and gas will be replaced by foreign fuel imports which are significantly more harmful to the environment.

Until we completely transition to 100% green energy sources, which California and the local community is not projected to do in the next two decades (and potentially far longer for heating and other utility needs), producing the cleanest fossil fuels available will have the least impact on climate change and the environment.

I recommend the City acknowledge that by adopting this Ordinance and prohibiting locally sourced oil and gas, it will result in the need to import more oil and gas, shifting the environmental impacts to other communities and causing an overall increase in impacts on the environment.

That is at least according to the California Air Resources Board.  Deer Valley Rd. oil production Comparison 011222

Bob Nunn

Sunset Exploration, Inc.

Antioch and Brentwood area oil gas wells and fields DCA SEC Map-1-22-2020. Most wells are capped and no longer in production. Source: CA Delta Conveyance Authority

Following public comments, mostly from people outside of Antioch thanking the council for protecting residents’ health and the environment, District 4 Councilwoman Monica Wilson, who proposed the ban, made a motion to approve the ordinance.

District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica said, “I just wanted to note that property owners that could have been affected…didn’t show up. To me, that speaks volumes.”

“I’ve been on the front lines for many years on social justice and environmental justice and I can’t take any of the credit,” District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker said. “I would just like to thank the Antioch residents on the frontline…and council members who have been working on this since before me.”

“After this then, we will be requesting and bring forward…a resolution to ask the county to no longer engage in this,” Mayor Lamar Thorpe said.

The motion passed 5-0.

the attachments to this post:

Deer Valley Rd. oil production Comparison 011222

Deer Valley Rd. oil production vs. Top CA oil fields 011222

Antioch & Brentwood area Oil & Gas Wells & Fields DCA SEC Map-1-22-2020

No oil drilling in Antioch – Deer Valley Road site

Antioch Oil & Gas Drilling Ban ACC011122

Deer Valley Rd. oil production Comparison chart 011222

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