Give Your Input on Baldwin Hills Oil Field

This month, the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning will begin the first periodic review of the Baldwin Hills Community Standards District, which regulates drilling and operations of the oil field.  As a property owner, resident, and/or community stakeholder, your input provides a very important role in this process.  The Department of Regional Planning has made a survey available to collect the community’s input.  Please click on the following link to read the introduction to the periodic review process, and to be taken to the survey:   http://planning.lacounty.gov/baldwinhills/csd.

Much has happened since the County,  the City of Culver City, community advocates and Plains Exploration & Production Company entered into a  settlement agreement in June 2011. An inventory of emissions around the perimeter of the Inglewood Oil Field is currently underway.   Also, the first phases of landscaping improvements, along La Brea and below Ladera Crest, are visible, and PXP is expected to begin construction on La Cienega Blvd early next year.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health  has completed a two-part community health assessment . The first part analyzed mortality and morbidity data for the population surrounding the oil field; the second part synthesized interviews with 1,000 residents regarding their health conditions and concerns. Also, a study looking at hydraulic fracking at the oil field has also been completed.

One conclusion, however, can be drawn from the entire settlement process: community involvement makes a difference. Together the community advanced a conversation the rest of the nation is only beginning to have.  Community involvement is key to promote environmental stewardship and accountability around the Inglewood Oil Field and throughout the Second District.

Lastly, please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the information contained within the attachments to this e-mail, which include the upcoming Community Advisory Panel meeting notice and agenda for the meeting this Thursday, May 23rd  at 7pm at the Kenneth Hahn Recreation Center, as well as the periodic review process flowchart (as discussed during the April CAP meeting).  In addition to collecting input from the electronic survey above, the Department of Regional Planning will also be collecting public comments during the May 23rd CAP meeting.

This information is also provided on the Baldwin Hills CSD’s website at http://planning.lacounty.gov/baldwinhills

Please contact Rena Kambara via email at rkambara@planning.lacounty.gov should you have any questions.

Fracking in the Inglewood Oil Field: A New Report is the First Step, not the Last Word

Fifteen months after a hard-won settlement provided for important environmental protections, research studies and monitoring of the Inglewood Oil Field and adjacent communities, compliance with the agreement’s provisions has been significant.

In compliance with the settlement, on October 10th, Plains Exploration and Production Company released a required study of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the Inglewood Oil Field. The study is the first of its kind to examine the potential environmental impacts of fracking at an oil field anywhere in the nation and possibly, the world.

There is a lot of information that has been collected, and it will take time to thoughtfully review and assess its findings, but it is appropriate for everyone involved to stop for a moment to acknowledge the petitioners who pushed for this study; that insistence – not the outcome — showcases the power of collective commitment on the part of many, many involved citizens. The study indicates that based on findings at two wells drilled on the oil field late last year, hydraulic fracking at depths of 7,000 feet below ground is safe. This determination, however, is based on 14 very specific conditions and strictly speaking, literally applies only to these two wells.

I see these findings as the beginning of research into the effects and feasibility of fracking, not a conclusion. What we have now is a scientific starting point for debate and discussion. It is appropriate that other technical experts weigh in on the report, and I expect the information to be thoroughly vetted by the state’s Division of Oil Gas and Geothermal Resources as they proceed with developing their long-awaited, statewide regulations on hydraulic fracking.

As I mentioned, the fracking study was a requirement of the June 2011 settlement that was facilitated by the County of Los Angeles and agreed to by plaintiffs, who had sued both the County and PXP. PXP was required to pay for an independent consultant to conduct the study, and the County and PXP were responsible for selecting a qualified peer reviewer to evaluate and provide comments on the study after it was completed. The consultant, Daniel Tormey of Cardno Entrix, had access to all of the data and information he requested, and that same data, including the peer reviewer’s comments, have been made available to the public and local and state regulatory agencies.

The settlement also required the oil company and the County to comply with a host of other mitigations to safeguard the health and wellbeing of the community.

A number of those conditions already have been met: the County is overseeing air quality monitoring, taking an inventory of emissions around the perimeter of the oil field. The first phases of landscaping improvements, along La Brea and below Ladera Crest, are visible, and PXP is expected to begin the next phase early next year. Permissible levels of nighttime noise have been significantly reduced, and a two-part community health assessment, which analyzed mortality and morbidity data for the population surrounding the oil field, as well as synthesized interviews with 1,000 residents regarding their health conditions and concerns, has been completed by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

One conclusion, however, can be drawn from the entire settlement process: community involvement makes a difference. Together we have advanced a conversation the rest of the nation is only beginning to have. And together, we will continue to promote environmental stewardship and accountability around the Inglewood Oil Field and throughout the Second District.

Click here for more a copy of the Hydraulic Fracking Study and related reports.

Click here to download an FAQ.

 

Statement on hydraulic fracking and the Inglewood Oil Field

Hydraulic fracking continues to be a subject not only of local, but international concern.  I too am very concerned about this issue, and the potential environmental, economic and social impacts of hydraulic fracking, specifically as it relates to the communities that surround the Inglewood Oil Field.

It is important that interested stake holders are cognizant of the differences between hydraulic fracking in the mid-west and north east, and in California. While most of the controversy has revolved around hydraulic fracking for natural gas, in California the geology only allows for fracking for oil. In addition, the majority of the states are only now adopting regulations on well integrity that California has relied on for years.

Nonetheless, we don’t have a complete understanding of the potential risks and appropriate regulations, and it’s important that the State of California, which has authority over this activity, act nimbly and thoroughly to develop regulations over this practice.

Over the past few years, I have advocated for a variety of strategies to address this concern.

Study of Environmental Impacts
After residents and community groups sued PXP and the County of Los Angeles in November 2008 over concerns generated by drilling at the Inglewood Oil Field, we required PXP to conduct a study to assess the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracking at the oil field. Also, the County has hired a independent consultant to peer review the study.

Support for Transparency in the Hydraulic Fracking Process
In May 2011, at my request, the Board of Supervisors unanimously supported statewide legislation that would require disclosure of the types of chemicals injected underground during oil and gas extraction.

Support for Department of Conservation’s Efforts to Develop Regulations
Given that the State’s Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources is the governmental entity responsible for regulating activities that take place underground, including hydraulic fracking, I have urged the Governor to take a leadership role in developing regulations.

Support for Moratorium on Hydraulic Fracking
Last week, Assemblywoman Betsy Butler authored statewide legislation to implement a moratorium on hydraulic fracking until the Department of Conservation’s regulations are put in place.

I fully  support this legislation. While the local study that is being prepared will provide valuable information about the environmental, safety and health risks potentially posed by hydraulic fracking in the Inglewood Oil Field, the findings of the study will not universally be applicable for oil production fields in the rest of the state.  Accordingly, I strongly urge the Department of Conservation to be comprehensive and deliberative in its study, research, and regulatory proceedings relative to this critical topic.

The Baldwin Hills community health assessment is complete

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has completed the final component of the Baldwin Hills Community Health Assessment, which consisted of a health survey of the residents surrounding the oil field. One thousand individuals were interviewed and self-reported illnesses, including asthma and other health concerns. The findings were compared to information for Los Angeles County residents as a whole.

The report can be found here.

Representatives from the Department of Public Health discussed the findings of the health survey at the July Meeting of the Baldwin Hills Community Advisory Panel. Click here to see their presentation.

The Department of Public Health previously presented the findings from the first phase of their Community Health Assessment in February 2011. The initial phase analyzed cancer rates, and mortality, low-birth weight and birth defect data for the communities surrounding the oil field.  The report was peer reviewed by Professor Vickie Mays of the UCLA Center on Minority Health Disparities, Dr. Stephen Thacker,  Director, Office of Surveillance, Epidemiology and Laboratory Services at the Centers for Disease Control and Dr. Carlos Castillo-Salgado, an Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins University.

To see a PowerPoint Presentation on Phase 1 of the community health assessment click here.

To see the Phase 1 report click here.


After over two years of critical and collaborative discussions between petitioners including the City of Culver City, Concerned Citizens of South Los Angeles, the Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community, and Community Health Councils, and the oil field operator, Plains Exploration and Production Co., all parties have agreed to 15 additional mitigations that when combined with the existing provisions of the Baldwin Hills Community Standards District (CSD), provide a strong framework for safeguarding the health, safety and security of the surrounding community. All parties have negotiated in good faith a settlement containing important improvements to the CSD that could not have been compelled by a court order resulting from the current litigation challenging the County’s Environmental Impact Report and the CSD. The completion of this settlement expedites the resolution of significant community concerns and allows the focus of this process to shift to constructive dialogue, implementation, monitoring and establishment of a more effective working relationship between the parties.

View more videos at: http://nbclosangeles.com.

A contentious legal battle over oil drilling in the Baldwin Hills has been settled, resulting in a reduction in the number of oil wells in the area, tighter restrictions on new wells and a series of measures to protect air quality, reduce noise and beautify the landscape.

The settlement, approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on July 5th, will be implemented immediately.

“This settlement is the victory area residents and I have sought after working together for nearly five years,” said supervisor Ridley-Thomas.

“Those who live near the oil field will see fewer wells, hear less noise from drilling and have in place stronger air quality protections than exist today. I’m confident this set of reforms is far more thorough than what could have been achieved through a contentious and protracted court battle,” he said.

Covering 1,100 acres, the so-called Inglewood Oil Field is not in the city of Inglewood, but surrounded by Culver City and Los Angeles communities including Baldwin Hills, View Park, Windsor Hills and Ladera Heights. Its name is derived from its position on the Inglewood fault.

Oil drilling at the site dates from 1924, long before sprawling residential communities were built around its perimeter. Over the decades, as the number of homes surrounding the site increased, so too did the concerns of residents.

In 2008 four lawsuits challenged the County’s set of environmental regulations of the oil field and its operator, Plains Exploration and Production Co. The plaintiffs were the City of Culver City, Concerned Citizens of South Los Angeles, the Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community and Community Health Councils, Inc.

Approval of the settlement by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors completed the acceptance of the agreement by all parties.

Key elements of the settlement include:

  • Reducing the total number of oil wells
  • Increased monitoring of air quality
  • More stringent noise limits
  • Improved landscaping
  • Mandatory, recurring health and environmental justice assessments

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas began working with area residents and advocates to address  oil field concerns in 2007, when he was a State Senator; members of the Empowerment Congress, a grassroots governing partnership founded by the Supervisor in 1992, brought the issue to his attention.

Two years ago, Ridley-Thomas sought assistance from then-Attorney General Jerry Brown to help mediate the disputing parties in the law suits. Brown assigned two attorneys to the task, who worked with his office to find common ground among the parties. When Kamala Harris was inaugurated attorney general last year, she continued to uphold mediating the Inglewood oil field dispute as a top priority.

“The arrival of the Attorney General’s experts marked a turning point,” said Ridley-Thomas, “they brought cool heads to a heated environment and in doing so guided us all to a solution that gives all sides more than we would have gotten from a court battle.”

 

 

Community Health Assessment – Phase 1

The Community Update on the Inglewood Oil Field on April 25, 2011 at the Junior Blind of America Auditorium provided an opportunity for ongoing candid dialogue regarding drilling and oil field operations at the Inglewood Oil Field.

The Department of Public Health presented the findings from the first phase of their Community Health Assessment of the communities surrounding the oil field. This report was peer reviewed by Professor Vickie Mays of the UCLA Center on Minority Health Disparities, Dr. Stephen Thacker,  Director, Office of Surveillance, Epidemiology and Laboratory Services at the Centers for Disease Control and Dr. Carlos Castillo-Salgado, an Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins University.

To see a PowerPoint Presentation on DPH’s findings click here.

To see the full report click here.

 

For more information about the CSD, please contact:

Department of Regional Planning

Contact: Leon Freeman

Email: lfreeman@planning.lacounty.gov

Phone: 213-974-6453

Website: Department of Regional Planning

To report a complaint, please contact:

Plains Exploration and Production (PXP)

Ombudsperson: Lisa Paillet

Email: LPaillet@pxp.com

Phone: 800-766-4108 (24 hours a day/seven days a week)

Website: www.inglewoodoilfield.com

In addition, please also contact SCAQMD if the complaint specifically relates to smoke, dust and odors:

South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD)

Phone: 800-288-7664

Important Links:


On August 4th, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas initiated a review of the Baldwin Hills Community Standards District (CSD), the zoning ordinance which regulates oil drilling and operations in Baldwin Hills. With the goal of identifying additional enhancements to the CSD, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas hosted a Town Hall meeting to gain community feedback on October 15th at West Los Angeles College. Read about the Town Hall meeting.

Town Hall Meeting Slideshow

To watch videos from the public comment period click here

Important Documents:

Links:

 

Hydraulic fracking study for the Inglewood Oil Field underway

In response to community concerns about the potential use of hydraulic fracking in the Inglewood Oil Field, Plains Exploration and Production Co. (PXP) has commissioned an independent study of the feasibility of hydraulic fracking in the oil field.

Hydraulic Fracking, the use of high pressure water injection to extract oil, historically has not been a process used to drill at the Inglewood Oil Field. Nonetheless, after residents and community groups sued PXP and the County of Los Angeles over health, noise, and air quality concerns generated by drilling, the oil company agreed to conduct the study as part of a settlement reached last July.  The Department of Regional Planning will also conduct an independent review of the study.

In March, representatives from PXP, the Department of Regional Planning, and California’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources, provided an overview to community stakeholders on how the study will be completed and responded to questions.

The study is expected to be completed this summer.

To receive updates on future meetings related to hydraulic fracking, please contact Karly Katona at kkatona@bos.lacounty.gov.

Agreement to Reduce Oil Drilling in LA Is a Win for Public Health

By Joel Reynolds & Mark Ridley-Thomas

Oil is at the center of our daily lives; it fuels our cars, powers our airplanes and is embedded in the plastics and other products we use day in and out. Its excavation is the stuff of tall tales, with “gushers” and boomtowns shaping our imagination. But many residents probably don’t realize that Los Angeles rests on one of the largest urban oil fields in the country, and oil drilling remains an ongoing activity in the heart of many of our neighborhoods.

To the residents of the greater Baldwin Hills area, who see the pump jacks and drill rigs every day — dotting the hillsides along La Cienega and Stocker — urban oil extraction is a quotidian reality. The Inglewood Oil Field has been drilled since the 1920s, and communities grew up around the wells. But only in recent years have we begun to understand the serious effects drilling may have on public health.

In January 2006, noxious gases unexpectedly escaped from wells at the Inglewood Oil Field, causing widespread panic and some residents in adjacent communities, including Baldwin Hills, View Park and Blair Hills, to evacuate. Despite assurances from the oil company, Plains Exploration and Production Corp., or PXP, another blowout happened one month later.

The community was shaken — and with good reason. Chemicals used in oil drilling have been linked to cancer and respiratory problems, and some homes are within a few hundred feet of an active well. It is not lost on residents here that in the Midwest and Northeast, drilling in deep deposits has led to contaminated groundwater. When the County investigated the PXP blowouts, what it found shocked everyone: few health or environmental safeguards were in place to protect nearby communities from the impacts of oil drilling. There were no noise regulations or mechanisms to survey air quality, and PXP was allowed to drill an unlimited number of wells, with no assessment of the cumulative public health and safety impacts.

Residents were outraged. The County held hearings and put some regulations in place, but they fell short of what the community wanted. As a result, environmentalists, health advocates, neighborhood groups and the City of Culver City filed suit.

In the fall of 2009, the parties sat down at the table to discuss what comprehensive safeguards and regulations should look like for the Inglewood Oil Field. Two years of tough negotiations ensued, but the hard work finally paid off this summer. All parties agreed on a set of common-sense measures intended to reduce the risk to public health, and the framework of the settlement should serve as a model for communities facing similar challenges.

PXP will drill fewer new wells, which translates to improved air quality and fewer emissions. It will conduct studies to see if wells can be drilled further away from sensitive areas such as schools, homes, and parks. It will examine and report on its potential use of “hydraulic fracking” — the injection of chemicals at high pressure to extract more oil from deep deposits — to see whether such activities would threaten groundwater quality, cause surface fissures or damage homes. PXP also will speed up landscaping plans to make the oil field less of an eyesore, help pay for a study to consolidate electrical lines in the field, and reduce its nighttime noise levels.

The county will play a critical role in enforcing the settlement. It will fund air quality monitoring at the perimeter of the oil field and require implementation of new “clean” technologies when technically feasible and commercially available. Also, the county will perform periodic community health studies, complete with an environmental justice component, and make them available to the public.

Although the settlement lays out straightforward mitigations the residents deserve, the work is far from over. Implementation will take years of hard work and follow-through, and the community should hold the County and PXP accountable for the commitments they’ve made.

Resolving the litigation provides an opportunity for the parties to look beyond the immediate public safety concerns and focus on larger policy initiatives. These include improving statewide standards for all oil fields in California (proposed Assembly Bill 591, which requires companies to disclose chemicals used in the fracking process, is a good start), as well as building unique recreational opportunities such as the 13-mile Park to Playa multi-use trail that will connect Baldwin Hills to Santa Monica Bay.

To reach the settlement, residents, activists, government and yes, the oil company, were required to recognize the serious implications of urban drilling and to find common ground. It’s not perfect, but there is no question that we are now on the path to securing the protections our communities fought for and deserve.

Joel R. Reynolds is a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council in Los Angeles and directs its Southern California program. Mark Ridley-Thomas is a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and represents the Second District, which includes the communities of Baldwin Hills, View Park, Culver City.  Click here for the Huffington Post article.


 

Community Meeting in Inglewood

The Second Supervisorial District has long been a supporter of the Environmental Charter High School (ECHS). With its innovative curriculum that is focused on promoting sustainability and experience-based education, the school made it to the Top 5 schools in President Obama’s 2010 “Race to the Top” Commencement Challenge. Over the last year, the Environmental Charter model has extended its reach to middle school students! Be a part of the planning effort to build a new campus and to help the school revitalize the surrounding community, especially along Imperial Highway. Please attend the community meeting on Tuesday, July 19th at Environmental Charter Middle School to discuss the plans to build a state of the art campus help revitalize Imperial Highway. Come brainstorm, share your ideas, and provide input on what revitalization means to you. WHEN/WHERE Tuesday, July 19th, 2011 5:30pm – 7:30pm Environmental Charter Middle School 3600 W. Imperial Hwy Inglewood, CA 90303 310.425.1605 Childcare and pizza provided. Free grocery Raffle. Flyer (PDF)