As many residents learned last week, the new operator of the Inglewood Oil Field, Sentinel Peak Resources, dropped its request that Culver City delay its release of the draft Oil Drilling Regulations, Specific Plan and Environmental Impact Report.
Further, SPR declared that they would no longer negotiate during meetings that included our city staff, consultants and the two-member Culver City City Council subcommittee that focuses on oil drilling.
With each passing day during the 90-day hold on releasing the critical Culver City documents, residents were being further exposed to all the risks to our health and safety posed by oil field operations. The lengthy list of risks includes—only in part–cancer, neurological problems, asthma–a major earthquake triggered by oil drilling, the release of methane, further contributing to global warming, and the release of many other toxic chemicals.
Both announcements by SPR and the City were excellent news. But they didn’t go far enough—not by a long shot.
Many residents are greatly concerned by the continuing risks. When the City-drafted documents are finally released to the public, they should contain several crucial elements.
Posting a surety bond of a minimum of $1 billion (not $1 million!) should be required of the oil field operator. If oil drilling were to trigger a major earthquake, most or all of Culver City’s homes, businesses, schools, other buildings and infrastructure could be ruined. The cost of repairs and replacement would easily amount to $1 billion, most likely even more.
Hiring an oil consultant to inspect all oil field operations on our portion of the oil field is critical. Our current consultants do important work, but they don’t actually go onto the oil field and inspect what’s happening there, analyze the wells and other equipment, and see whether the operator is complying with our regulations. We really don’t know what is and what is not happening on that field! The oil field operator must be required to grant the city’s oil consultant access to the oil field on a regular basis and provide pertinent information as requested.
A few more points:
Transparency on the part of the City is significant. Residents must be provided as much access as possible to City-sponsored meetings about the oil drilling and to information derived from these meetings.
During the July 11th community meeting regarding SPR, a number of residents stated that the meetings between the City and SPR should have been open to the public. We said the same thing about the meetings held only between the two members of the Culver City Oil Drilling Subcommittee (Councilmembers Sahli-Wells and Clarke). It was explained to us that night that some meetings simply cannot be open to the public. So I request that to the extent possible—whatever that is–meetings be open to the public and information or minutes be made available.
Research has shown that SPR is involved as much in real estate as in operating oil fields. Residents have heard that SPR may want to stop drilling for oil and instead use the oil field for construction of housing. What a horrible idea! The toxicity of the oil field is so great that no remediation will ever be adequate. Constructing housing and selling or renting it at lower prices to entice owners or renters would be unsafe and immoral!
There is every reason to think that either SPR or another company could use the oil field for a wind and solar farm, and make a profit. Perhaps a greater profit than from oil and gas. And we all would profit from that.