This fight is not just about Hermosa Beach. This decision to allow oil drilling in Hermosa Beach affects the entire Santa Monica Bay and South Bay, including Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Torrance, Palos Verdes, El Segundo, Venice, Play del Rey, Marina del Rey, Santa Monica and Malibu. There are very significant environmental impacts both to the immediate community and of great concern to Santa Monica Bay. Once you lift the oil and gas sanctuary for one location that can be the domino that changes the entire landscape of Los Angeles County**. If the drilling restrictions are lifted, and if they found oil, which we doubt, but then the adjacent jurisdictions to them would then come under attack.  It would render the Santa Monica "oil and gas sanctuary" meaningless.  This fight is about keeping oil drillers out of California State sanctuary waters. Here is an extended list of reasons to stop E&B from drilling oil in Hermosa Beach.

Eighty long years ago, angry, fed-up voters banned oil drilling in Hermosa Beach through a ‘people’s initiative’. Ever since, oil companies have tried to force Hermosa Beach to change back to the old laws and again risk their life, health and beach vitality for some low-grade oil off our ocean shores and a barrel of empty promises of what oil riches will do to “help” the city. In every case, the oil men have ultimately been sent packing by the voters.

Don Macpherson
In 1995, the voters reinstated the city’s original ban oil to specifically halt the project of the most recent oil interloper, Macpherson Oil / Windward Energy. The specific matter of whether voters could retroactively stop a project that had been approved for drilling was eventually settled in the courts in 2000 and the drill ban was upheld.

Meanwhile, in 1998, after the Hermosa Beach City Council received a new report, it too, decided the risks of drilling outweighed the benefit and banned the project outright. Again the oil men went to court, this time to sue Hermosa Beach for $750 million, the laughably high price it claimed was the value of the oil that lay in Hermosa’s meager oil field and even though there is no legal theory that it was entitled to consider the oil, if any, as their personal property.

Ever since, Hermosa Beach government has been defending its authority in court, and certainly the City’s obligation to protect citizen safety and health overrides any role it might have “playing oil baron” with outside speculators from a small Bakersfield scavenger outfit.

Now we face yet another oil crisis. City fathers, in a sudden turnaround, announced they had “settled” the matter with Macpherson Oil for “only” $17.5 mm. Here is the letter from the City and the full settlement agreement.

Worse, in a move some call “cynical”, the Hermosa Beach City Council also announced that the matter of oil drilling will again be returned to the voters! Voters will be told that if they vote “yes”, that yet another Bakersfield oil outfit, this one called E&B, that almost all of the Macpherson Oil settlement will be forgiven.

In short, the Council plans to give Hermosa Beach voters only one of two choices:
A) Pay $17.5M
B) Drill in our Front Yard for a theoretical "net revenue" stream that has restricted use.  Repay E&B $3M loan + give them a $15M City Yard property?

Hermosa Beach doesn’t need E&B or any other oil drilling in town! Hermosa Beach doesn’t need dirty oil money! The benefits are too low and the negatives are far too high. Literally billions of dollars in real estate capital is at risk. Our City is not chartered with redistributing wealth by destroying real estate values for the purposes of putting more money into City pockets. This redistribution-of-wealth strategy is hypocritical for a City that boasts of being "green".

On one hand it good to know that the City finally has a number to settle upon and that it is far lower than the $50+M that would have bankrupted it. $17.5M is high but it’s a mistake that can be absorbed in the fullness of time. It amounts to about $30 a person per year over the drilling life of the project.

Sadly, it seems clear on where the City Council stands as to their preference with how this turns out. It’s once again up to the citizens to choose Hermosa Beach’s destiny. Together, we have succeeded in the past and together we will succeed again.

The new prospective driller is:
E&B Oil 
460 East Carson Plaza Drive, Carson, CA 90746
(310) 515-5451 ‎
This driller has deeper pockets and will aggressively wine and dine us. The driller will try to play ‘divide and conquer’ with the community but we will fight that, too. We may not have a million dollars or a PR machine but we have an even better, more powerful tool. We, the citizens, have the truth and the facts on our side. And we have each other. 

We call on Hermosa Beach residents today. Now is the time to become informed and conversant on this issue. Now is the time to turn our love for Hermosa Beach and our civic pride into action. Now is the time to insist that the City Council allegiance resides with citizens and not oil drillers.

In the coming weeks and months, we will be hard at work on a number of efforts to ensure drilling stays off the table. We welcome your support, look forward to hearing your questions and we appreciate your comments.

Our neighbors in Redondo Beach have a similar fight on their hands with a big energy company trying to tear down Redondo Power Plant.  Its all connected and you should sign their petition NoPowerPlant.com.

** ~ Hermosa Beach Stop Oil attorney Jan Chatten-Brown 03/08/94.

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