The Inglewood Oil Field is the largest urban oil field in the contiguous United States. Roughly 10% of the field resides here in Culver City but that 10% is of arguable value to the field’s new owners Sentinel Peak Resources. If the show or lawyerly force coupled with worker testimony at the City Council’s community meeting on the issue in April is any indication the value of fossil fuel resources in the Culver City portion of the field is outsized compared to the small percentage surface area within the city limits. But, such a circumstantial estimation of of the purported value of the oil deposits in that 10% of the field (and further into and under Culver City homes due to slant drilling techniques) begs the question, how much is enough? Or to put it a different way at what cost?
At the April meeting our City Manager indicated that the amount of revenue that the city receives as a result of the oil field is not substantial. What is it that we risk by refusing to delay any further the release of the draft Environmental Impact Report?
At what cost do we risk delaying sorely needed local regulations to govern the oil drilling practices (which include standard drilling, and the euphemistically phrased “well maintenance” and “well stimulation”)? Are the health and safety of our residents and sensitive receptors (hospitals, schools, daycare facilities, elderly housing and convalescent facilities) worth waiting until Sentinel Peak Resources completes their new geological study into the feasibility of using new technological drilling while the company continues to use old techniques in the interim? The ill health effects of proximity to oil drilling and exploration are well documented and in many communities well regulated. Should not standard techniques be monitored and supervised now and any new techniques or practices that come about be regulated on an ad hoc basis?
At what cost do we delay the work of city staff and outside consultants in drafting oil regulations to allow input from the oil field’s new owner? Should not these regulations instead apply regardless of who owns the oil field?
These are questions that we need to grapple with as a community. They are questions that deserve to be answered. There should be no lag time when it comes to safeguarding the health and safety of our community. We need strong setbacks that reduce proximity and exposure to oil operations and emissions, we need strict air quality monitoring to insure compliance of the rules we establish and we need a large bond in place to safeguard our community in case of ruptures, leaks, spills and other mishaps. We’ve needed these things for some time now. We delay at the expense of the health our family, friends and neighbors and other loved ones.