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Jan 22, Kern County, CA – Today a coalition of citizens and environmental groups released California’s first analysis of air pollution from oil and gas pollution using infrared video analysis in combination with air sampling and health surveys of impacted communities. Making visible normally invisible pollution, the study revealed that the communities of Lost Hills and Upper Ojai are exposed to at least 15 distinct toxics released by oil and gas development.

Although oil and gas development has occurred in California for generations, until Californians at Risk: An analysis of health threats from oil and gas pollution in two communities, no one in California — private or government — had recorded and analyzed its air pollution using infrared video and then identified the individual constituents of that pollution and the health risks associated with it. Infrared video, taken with a FLIR camera, is the same technology that oil and gas companies and government regulators use to detect air pollution leaks and violations.  

Externally reviewed by academic experts, the findings of Californians at Risk make the case that California’s Department of Public Health — not the Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources  — should investigate the health risks from oil and gas development, akin to the study recently released in New York.

“When it comes to measuring air pollution from oil and gas development, California is behind even Texas. To protect the health of communities living near oil and gas, California’s health experts, the Department of Public Health, must study the issue. It is unconscionable that our state claims that oil and gas development is safe without a proper investigation.”  — Jhon Arbelaez, Earthworks organizer and Californians at Risk author

“We know that there are a host of pollutants and toxic chemicals in oil and gas extraction processes, and my constituents live and work near these facilities. This study confirms the obvious: that people living next to these oil and gas operations are being hurt. It should make us angry that there is not enough state regulation to protect our friends and neighbors from the health impacts of oil and gas.” — Das Williams, California State Assemblymember for the 37th district.

“Rarely do the residents of Lost Hills and other disadvantaged communities get the opportunity to participate in historic events. Today with the release of the report Californians at Risk, that changes. We are hopeful that regulators and health providers will listen to this call for action.” — Rosanna Esparza, Kern County Organizer for Clean Water Action/Clean Water Fund

“The CA Department of Public Health, whose first priority is to protect Californians' health, should be the state agency examining the health threats posed by oil and gas pollution. That California has instead relied only upon DOGGR, the agency charged with encouraging oil and gas development, speaks volumes about where the state's priorities are regarding the health impacts of oil and gas recovery. As a Registered Nurse I acknowledge the limitations of the study but this only provides a stronger argument for the state to invest in rigorous, unbiased health impact research.” — Lucinda Wasson MS, PHN, RN, retired Director of Public Health Nursing for Kern County

“This report documents that our friends, our kids, and our communities are being exposed to harmful oil and gas pollution. It is unacceptable that we learned this from an independent study, rather than the government agencies charged with protecting our health. And we still don't know how much pollution there is or its impact on our health. Citizens for Responsible Oil & Gas calls on the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District to conduct consistent monitoring of oil field pollution, and the Board of Supervisors to order health studies in the Upper Ojai and other threatened communities.” — John Brooks, Citizens for Responsible Oil & Gas President

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