CA Town Built on Oil Bans Drilling

CA Town Built on Oil Bans Drilling

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!
by John Pendleton  |   Monday, March 24, 2014
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The City Council of Carson, California has voted to impose a moratorium on any new oil drilling with the city limits. To many it seems as though the town is biting the hand that feeds it, but the council members are worried about harmful effects of hydraulic fracturing. The moratorium is initially a 45-day ban, but could be extended out as far as two years.

The town's largest single employer is BP West Coast and Wednesday's vote was a direct reaction to Occidental Petroleum's (OXY) plan to drill 200 wells in the storied Dominguez Oil Field. That field has been producing oil since 1923 and has yielded more than 270 million barrels of oil. The city benefited greatly from revenues generated by the 600 wells already drilled there, using tax dollars paid by oil companies to fund its schools and infrastructure.

Oxy has gone on-record as saying that the proposed wells would all be "conventional" and that no hydraulic fracturing would be involved, but opponents expressed concerns that since Oxy has spun off is oil and gas operations into a new company, the new entity might not abide by agreements signed by Oxy. That line of reasoning makes no sense at all though, because the city's own planning staff has already stated that the new corporate entity would be legally bound by Oxy's existing contractual obligations.

Oxy even offered to disguise and even soundproof its drilling operations inside a warehouse complex and pay for the monitoring needed to ensure compliance with city regulations. The draft of an environmental report that examined the project determined that the proposed project would have no significant effects on air quality, soil or groundwater after mitigation.

It's no surprise that Oxy would abandon California and move its headquarters to a more business-friendly environment like Houston, but considering the company's firm guarantee of no fracing and its willingness to minimize the impact its drilling would have on the community, the council's vote leaves many observers wondering if there isn't a larger agenda in play.

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