By Rosanna Esparza, Kern County Organizer , and Jhon Arbelaez of Earthworks
When we began research for this report nearly a year ago, we discovered a disturbing lack of data specific to California on the health effects from oil & gas in our state. With a production of nearly 200 million barrels of oil in 2013 alone, this lack of data raises serious questions about our state’s priorities when it comes to protecting the health of its citizens.
We examined two communities. Our analysis found that residents living along with oil & gas production in Lost Hills (Kern County), and Upper Ojai (Ventura County), are at increased risk for health impacts from exposure to oil and gas air emissions.
Californians at Risk: An Analysis of Health Threats from Oil and Gas Pollution in Two Communities recorded and analyzed oil and gas air pollution using specially tuned infrared video – the same technology that companies and regulators use to detect leaks. By using a multi-faceted approach, we were able to show that Upper Ojai and Lost Hills are being exposed to air pollution associated with oil & gas development. The FLIR camera allowed us to detect invisible-to-the-naked-eye emissions from processing facilities, wells, storage tanks, and unlined evaporation pits.