BRENTWOOD – The Brentwood City Council didn’t have to dig deep to find support for their extension of a ban on oil and gas drilling in Brentwood during their March 28 meeting.
The Council’s unanimous vote was preceded by more than 30 minutes of public comment from residents as well as a speaker from Kern County who expressed support for a Council that prioritized community health and safety over profits — something he said differs from his own county’s approach.
The goal of the ordinance would be to temporarily halt oil and gas drilling from occurring 3,200 feet from “sensitive receptor” areas. A sensitive receptor area is defined by the Environmental Protection Agency as an area whose occupants are more susceptible to harm from pollutants.
Examples include hospitals, schools and nursing homes.
“I was raised in the Midwest in Oklahoma. Right next to a field that had been used, stripped and abandoned by the industry,” Mayor Joel Bryant said of his own concerns over drilling. “It can have some devastating long-lasting or even permanent effects.”
“There’s a reason they call some of these abandoned areas ‘brownfields,’” Bryant agreed. “Because nothing can ever grow there again.”
The agenda item was a continuation of one that came before the council in April of last year. At that time, the council enacted a 45-day temporary ban on oil and gas drilling while they researched more “ironclad” options.
The moratorium was extended another 10 months and 15 days in May 2022 to give city staff the time to draft a permanent ban that would stand up to potential legal challenges. The maximum length of time a temporary ban can last is one year, according to Damien Brower, the city attorney, during the March 28 meeting.
Brower presented the agenda item to the Council that would extend the moratorium another year while city staff finished drafting the ordinances that were first discussed last year.
“Staff and special counsel have been studying the issues related to preparing the ban and preparing the ordinances,” Brower said. “Specifically two ordinances. The first being a permanent ban on new oil and gas drilling in the city and the second being updating our current regulations. That ordinance would only go into effect if the permanent ban was successfully challenged, so you’d still have regulations in place if the permanent ban went away for whatever reason.”
The ordinances are expected to be completed and presented to both the Planning Commission and the City Council this spring or in early summer, according to Brower. The need for the vote on an extension of the temporary ban was because the previous extension from last year will expire before the ordinances can be presented and, potentially, implemented.
The emphatic public comments following Brower’s presentation included several local high school students who expressed concern for the environmental impact drilling would have on Brentwood and the surrounding area, causing the council to praise them for their involvement.
Brower said of the students who had made their concerns known, “We’re in pretty good hands.”
Other topics discussed at the meeting included a performance report by Police Chief Tim Herbert and a proclamation that April is Autism Awareness Month.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.