Thursday , February 22 2024

Between A Highway And An Oilfield, Lost Hills Residents Question Their Air Quality

When Saul Ruiz heard about the McKittrick oil seep, which first occurred in May and is now being cleaned up by Chevron and state agencies, his first reaction was worry: Worry for the McKittrick residents and environment nearby, but also for residents of other similar communities. “My worry was that problems like these could expand to other communities like Taft, Buttonwillow, Lost Hills,” he says in Spanish. Lost Hills: A community of 2,400 tucked between the I-5 and an oilfield about 20 miles north of McKittrick in Western Kern County. It’s where Ruiz settled 34 years ago and now lives with his wife, eight of his nine kids, and dozens of chickens. “What I like about this town is that it’s very relaxed, very tranquil,” he says. “Aside from the poor air quality, I love this town.” Air quality is a perennial concern in Lost Hills, where Ruiz worries it’s worse than elsewhere in the Valley. Residents complain of smells like rotten eggs and chemicals. When his daughter was young, she
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