First, I ‘d like to thank the city for extending the comment period for the Inglewood Oil Field EIR and Oil Specific Plan. The additional time has given residents and stakeholders who are scientists and laypeople alike a chance to look further into the specifics of the plan and to come to a greater understanding of how the proposed outline of the project and associated regulations may affect our families and neighbors and their futures.
In that regard I would argue that the city should demand a minimum 2500 ft setback from oil drilling/production and maintenance to all homes and businesses in the “developed” area. Currently, we are only calling for a 400 ft setback. According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s recent report (pg. 28), “…expert scientists, public health professionals and medical professionals [were surveyed] regarding setback distances, and 89% of participants agreed that a minimum safe distance to unconventional oil and gas operations was a quarter of a mile (1,320 feet).” A similar report from 2014 in Maryland called for a minimum setback of 2000 ft. These are only the minimums recommended. It is incumbent upon the city and its representatives to do as much as they can to protect the health and safety of our residents. The city should go above and beyond the already scientifically established standard. This is why I am writing in passionate support of a 2500 ft. setback.
Beyond safeguarding the health and safety of residents and stakeholders on a day to day basis, the city must also plan to protect its residents and businesses in the case of an oil-related seismic incident, an oil spill, a blowout or other oil-related disaster. For this reason I am also writing in enthusiastic support of requiring the oil operator to purchase a minimum 2.5 billion dollar surety bond. Culver City has grown impressively over the last few decades with new businesses in many sectors and rising housing prices. An oil-related disaster would halt this trend in its tracks and send housing prices tumbling. In the event of such an unfortunate occurrence, the city must be certain that any ill effects experienced by homeowners, renters and businesses will receive immediate financial recompense. This way neither the city, its residents, business owners or stakeholders will be on the hook financially.
Lastly, if we are truly committed to being a city that leads and that is looking towards the future, we should consider just how much of that future includes fossil fuels. Adding 30 new wells over 15 years cements the city’s commitment to fossil fuels and to the past. California SB 32, SEC. 2. Section 38566 states: “In adopting rules and regulations to achieve the maximum technologically feasible and cost-effective greenhouse gas emissions reductions authorized by this division, the state board shall ensure that statewide greenhouse gas emissions are reduced to at least 40 percent below the statewide greenhouse gas emissions limit no later than December 31, 2030.” The state is moving swiftly away from fossil fuels; allowing the drilling of new wells, would move us in the wrong direction. We should instead approve no new wells until we are certain that the new regulations that we pass are strictly obeyed. To make sure this happens, the city should issue an excise tax on oil drilling/production/ maintenance. The funds produced from this tax will allow us to make sure that either a Culver City employee or outside contractor is available to monitor our portion of the oil field rigorously, and on a regular basis.
The process of coming to a decision around regulating the Inglewood Oil Field has been long, but the extra time we have taken as a city has helped to make sure residents and stakeholders are informed, have the chance to comment and can be confident in the direction of the city in regards to health, safety and environmental standards for years to come. It is my hope that as a result the city crafts the strongest regulations possible.
Daniel Wayne Lee
Culver City Resident