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Arvin Planning Commission advances proposed oil and gas rule changes

The Arvin Planning Commission meets Tuesday night, June 12, 2018, to advance oil and gas regulation changes to the City Council for consideration. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

UPDATE: The Arvin Planning Commission on Tuesday night, June 12, advanced these oil and gas guidelines to the City Council for consideration.

The original story, published a day before the meeting, is below.

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ARVIN, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) -- The Arvin Planning Commission on Tuesday will vote whether to adopt or amend proposed changes to the city's oil and gas ordinance.

Billed by Mayor Jose Gurrola as overdue improvements to health and safety protections, the proposed package of rules has drawn sharp criticism from industry players who view the whole thing as a political stunt.

Four years ago, eight families were evacuated from their homes on Nelson Court after a gas pipeline leaked, creating significant danger of an explosion. Dozens of people were forced to stay out of their homes for months.

State regulators issued a $75,000 fine to the pipeline's operator, Petro Capital Resources, for its role in the leak.

It's this incident that Gurrola said weighs heavily on his mind as he courts support for the new rules.

Oil industry players polled Monday said the state has taken appropriate steps to prevent another Nelson Court-like problem. Drilling regulations that are likely to slow down permitting and increase costs aren't needed, they say.

Ed Hazard represents another group of shareholders who are upset about the proposal. He leads the National Association of Royalty Owners, people who own mineral rights beneath their property. Hazard said he sees a 5th Amendment violation in the way Arvin is looking to change the rules.

If someone has property rights to valuable petroleum products beneath their home or business but the government bars them from accessing it through restrictions on drilling, Hazard equates the regulation with theft.

"That goes to the core of the foundation of this country," he said. "Private property rights. That's what these are."

Gurrola, however, is confident the city's proposal would pass legal muster.

"We are fully within our constitutional purview as a local government," he said.

The Planning Commission meets at 6 p.m. in the Arvin City Council Chambers, 200 Campus Drive.

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