A skeptic of man-made climate change and outspoken opponent of environmental regulations will join the SLO County Planning Commission.
The Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 on Feb. 21, with Supervisor Adam Hill dissenting, to approve Dan Del Campo to the five-member commission. Del Campo is SLO County Supervisor John Peschong's pick to represent North County's 1st District and replace retiring Commissioner Jim Irving.
Del Campo hosted North County's KPRL talk show "Sound Off" for six years before recently leaving the station. Prior to joining KPRL, Del Campo states on his resume, included in county documents with the Feb. 21 meeting agenda, that he was retired from "corporate employ." Prior to that, Del Campo served as a Thousand Oaks City Council member between 1998-2002.
Peschong said that Del Campo, an Oak Shores resident, is a "member of my community" and praised his leadership experience and abilities.
"He's very experienced in all aspects of planning," Peschong said. "I looked at his career, his ability to articulate issues and ideas, and the fact that he is very detail-oriented, which is needed on the planning commission."
Del Campo appears to be opposed to many of California's environmental regulations. He has expressed support for oil and natural gas production and has been critical of environmentalists.
In 2014, Del Campo wrote a column for the conservative blog site Brietbart California called "California's Fracking Mess" in support of expanding fracking in the Monterey Shale.
In a videotaped appearance speaking at a North County Tea Party event in 2014, Del Campo elaborated on his views.
"For the last 60 years in the state of California, fracking has been going on. There's been no contamination," he said.
The California Department of Conservation reported in 2014 that fracking operations in California were injecting fracking wastewater into federally protected aquifers.
In the same talk, Del Campo said, "Let's talk about who controls the water in the state of California. Does anybody know? It is the environmentalists."
Del Campo published on his Twitter account in 2015: "If we burned all the world's fossil fuels tomorrow guess what would happen to sea levels ... liberals will not like this."
Del Campo did not immediately return a request for comment from New Times.
Peschong's pick for the commission drew criticism from fellow Supervisor Hill.
"This is yet another rigidly ideological decision," Hill wrote to New Times and The Tribune in an email Monday morning. "Even though he recently retired form his role as lead hate monger on KPRL, it's still a troublesome blurring of media and government."
Del Campo's appointment comes as the majority of the planning commission turns over. In December and January, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved (with no opposition) Michael Multari, a former SLO city planning commissioner, and Julie Hawkins, a Cal Poly planner, to the commission, appointments of supervisors Bruce Gibson and Hill, respectively. They replaced retiring commissioners Ken Topping and Eric Meyer.
The planning commission is poised to play critical decision-making roles in two highly controversial oil projects: the Phillips 66 Rail Spur Extension and the Price Canyon Oilfield expansion.
Commissioner Irving, who Del Campo would replace, was thought to be the swing vote on a 3-2 decision in October to deny the Phillips 66 project. Phillips 66 is challenging that decision in a lawsuit, requesting that the court send the project back to the planning commission for reconsideration.
The Board of Supervisors will hear an appeal of the planning commission's denial of the Phillips 66 project in March. Supervisor Peschong will recuse himself from that vote due to conflicts of interest, since his political consulting company contracted with Phillips 66.
The Price Canyon Oilfield expansion application to drill more than 350 new wells between Highway 227 and Pismo Beach is currently under review by the Environmental Protection Agency for an aquifer exemption. If that exemption is granted, the planning commission will eventually review the oilfield expansion proposal.