The groups' appeal was brought before the Board of Supervisors last week in a hearing that ran for more than three hours. The board ultimately ruled against approving the permits in a 4-0 vote, with Supervisor Nate Miley abstaining.
"I think the final vote, 4-0, reflects widespread opposition from people from all parts of the county," says Kretzmann. "The board prioritized the community rather than the profits of the oil company and they should be applauded for standing up to the oil industry and putting their constituents first."
E&B, based in Bakersfield, uses a method known as waterflooding to extract oil from the ground. The process pumps water down one well, pushing the oil up through a different well.
"Local governments can make a huge difference in the fight against climate change by reducing fossil fuel production and moving us toward renewable energy," says Kretzmann. "Alameda County has shown bold decision-making and it can be a model for other cities and counties."
A spokesperson for E&B called the decision "disappointing," pointing to a recommendation to approve the permits from the county planning department and a green light from the local zoning board. He also implied that the fight isn't over.
"E&B Natural Resources will continue to explore a mutually agreeable resolution with the County on our conditional use permits," spokesman Ted Cordova wrote in a statement emailed to KQED.
E&B has been cited for safety violations over the years, including a 2015 fine for failing to report a spill and disposing of the contaminated soil without testing for toxic chemicals.
Also that year, E&B agreed to an $85,000 settlement with the county for mixing sludge with non-hazardous soils. At the time, the company argued that the violation occurred before E&B took over operations.
Two state agencies, the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources and the Water Resources Board, have said that the groundwater beneath the oil field is not suitable for drinking because of its high mineral and salt content.
Kretzmann takes issue with that.
"Their own documents show that the water could be treated and used for other types of use," he says. "The water should be preserved for future use -- especially given the fact that California is likely to experience more severe droughts in the future."