Oil Rigs—in the Bay Area?

Jun 25, 2020


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.

Update: Thank you to everyone who took action to defend Brentwood communities and the Bay-Delta from oil drilling! The pressure worked—Contra Costa County has agreed to put the project on hold to conduct a full environmental review and allow for more robust public comment.

Related Content

Baykeeper in Action
This past February, I was in the middle of a Zoom meeting when my cell phone started buzzing. Texts were coming in from Richmond residents alerting us to an oil spill near Chevron’s tanker wharf. I...
When the Bay Smells Like a Gas Station
Two weeks ago, an oil pipeline at the Chevron refinery in Richmond leaked, spilling more than 700 gallons of diesel mixture into the Bay. Authorities closed nearby Keller Beach and issued a public...
Oil doesn't belong in our Bay
As soon as we learned about the Chevron oil spill in Richmond last week, the Baykeeper team leapt into action. Within half an hour of the report, our field investigator launched our drone Osprey into...
Join us to hold polluters accountable and defend the Bay DONATE NOW >