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As CA Considers Fracking Ban, Culver City is One Step Ahead

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This map shows the part of the Inglewood oil field that lies within Culver City, close to several  neighborhoods. (Baker & O'Brien, Inc.)
This map shows the part of the Inglewood oil field that lies within Culver City, close to several neighborhoods. (Baker & O'Brien, Inc.)
 By Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CA - Producer, Contact
February 22, 2021

CULVER CITY, Calif. -- State lawmakers proposed a bill, Senate Bill 467, to ban fracking last week, but one city, Culver City, has already taken a big step in that direction.

In October, the city council approved a resolution to wind down drilling within five years; staff are working on an ordinance now.

The city hosts 10% of the Inglewood oil field, which has been drilling for about 100 years.

Meghan Sahli-Wells, California state director for Elected Officials to Protect America and former mayor of Culver City, said neighbors are troubled by reports of miscarriages and cancer diagnoses in parts of the city.

"Cancer over cancer over cancer in the communities that are closest to the oil field," Sahli-Wells asserted. "We have a ton of anecdotal stories of people in our community who look at the pollution that's happening at the oil field site as the culprit."

She added more data is needed.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is studying the area to determine any link between oil fields and health problems. And the California Air Resources Board is about to start monitoring air quality around the state's oil fields.

At a council meeting, mineral rights owners called the plan an unconstitutional violation of their property rights.

The city council commissioned a study, which showed the current operator will recoup their investment by this year.

Sahli-Wells contended to fight climate change, we must keep fossil fuels in the ground, so the city runs on renewables.

"Not just in our energy but in our transportation and our housing policy, in our waste management," Sahli-Wells argued. "We're really trying to model what we would like to see statewide and internationally."

The plan calls for retraining workers to remediate the site.

The other 90% of the Inglewood oil field is in an unincorporated part of Los Angeles County.

Sahli-Wells hopes that the County Board of Supervisors will consider a similar approach, and redevelop the site into a new "Central Park of the West."

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