Oil Prop Withdrawn from November Ballot; Culver City Law Protecting Residents Holds

When Culver City moved to ban oil drilling near homes and schools in June of 2021, it opened up a bigger movement to protect residents from the harmful effects of fossil fuel production. On June 26, 2024, the California Independent Petroleum Association – a lobbying group for the industry – withdrew a proposed ballot initiative for the November election that would have overturned that protection. 

Assembly member Isaac Bryan offered “In the fight between Big Oil and the people of California, the people are undefeated.”

With the small slice of the Inglewood Oil Field that is legally in Culver City, a mere 10%, the insightful legal strategy that allowed the city to protect it’s people has become a crucial rung on the ladder for state government to ascend.  

Food & Water Watch California Director Chirag Bhakta released a statement:“This proves once again that Californians do not want dangerous and polluting oil rigs in their backyards, near where their children go to school and play or near hospitals. This victory is due to the dedication of so many, and particularly frontline communities who are experiencing the brunt of the oil industry’s pollution and have been advocating for years to get dirty oil drilling out of their backyards.”

Former Culver City Mayor and current Sierra Club leader Meghan Sahli-Wells noted “Our organizing worked! Big Oil spent millions to overturn common sense community protections from oil and gas drilling near our homes, schools and hospitals. but they pulled their measure last night! It’s a huge victory for Californians and communities like Culver City… I’m proud to be a part of the movement to stop this bad ballot initiative.”

Sentinel Peak Resources, the oil company currently leasing the Inglewood Oil Field, was the top contributor to the now-deceased ballot measure. Sahli-Wells suggested “They should invest their money in cleaning up their mess, and stop wasting millions on measures that harm us. “

At the Culver City council meeting on June 17, 2021, heard an outpouring of residents describing their own personal issues with the oil field. There was more than an hour of comments from the podium during the Public Hearing, with many Culver City residents talking about health issues; cancer clusters, asthmatic children and the constant nonspecific threats of toxic chemical activity next to residences.

The 2006 crisis in the oil field territory above the Culver Crest – known locally as The Big Stink – became the initial push from the community towards regulating the oil field, it wasn’t until 2018 that the option of amortization became council business. 

On yesterday’s turnaround, Bhakta said “Despite claims that they were “confident” that the ballot measure would pass, CIPA’s turning to the court system indicates that the industry is afraid of the power of a solid public mandate against oil drilling.”

Judith Martin-Straw

Arial photo of Inglewood Oil Field from City of Culver City

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