Santa Monica Lookout
|Santa Monica Council Tells Hermosa Beach to Reject Oil Drilling Proposal|
By Jonathan Friedman
December 11, 2014 -- Other than the installation of new elected officials and the selection of Kevin McKeown as mayor, there was only one item on the City Council agenda Tuesday night, and it didn’t even involve Santa Monica -- at least not directly.
The council voted unanimously for a resolution encouraging voters in Hermosa Beach to reject a proposal going before them in a special March 3 election that would reverse the city’s ban on oil drilling.
If Hermosa Beach voters approved the proposal, known as Measure O, it would set a path for the company E & B Natural Resources to go forward with a plan for oil drilling in the Santa Monica Bay.
The company’s plan is to put up an 87-foot drilling rig and collect the oil through what is known as slant drilling. Up to 34 wells could be used to collect 8,000 barrels of oil per day from underneath the seafloor under a 34-year lease, according to the Santa Monica council’s opposition resolution.
Councilmembers Terry O’Day and Ted Winterer proposed the resolution. O’Day said the project’s environmental impact report gives a 34 percent chance for an oil spill.
“I think we all know what an oil spill could mean for the community here,” O’Day said.
The council heard from several speakers who supported the resolution. Nobody spoke in opposition.
Among those who addressed the council were representatives of the Santa Monica-based environmental group Heal the Bay.
Todd Flora, who serves on the Heal the Bay Board and the Santa Monica Rent Control Board, noted that the resolution could be considered symbolic, and there is some criticism for those types of measures.
“I think this one’s important because we need to let the voters of Hermosa Beach know that 90,000 people to their north have their backs, and really let them know that we support a no vote,” Flora said. “To not do so would almost be a sin of omission.”
Jamie Friedland from the Natural Resources Defense Council said, “Allowing that project to advance would set a dangerous precedent. Even though Santa Monica does have more legal protection against drilling here, laws can change.
He added, "[This is] especially [true] in the current environment where we have an era of corporate political involvement.”
Friedland and others also spoke about how a potential oil spill would be devastating to Santa Monica’s tourism industry.
Published media reports say Hermosa Beach is divided about the issue, with opponents looking at potential environmental problems and supporters saying it could bring a great deal of money into the city.
One public speaker spoke on behalf of Hermosa Beach Mayor Pro Tem Nanette Barragan. He praised O’Day and Winterer for making the proposal, and encouraged a unanimous passage of the resolution.
The ballot measure argument in favor of Measure O says passage would not lead to any significant health effects and stated economic benefits.
“Every economic study concluded that Hermosa Beach could get hundreds of millions of dollars of new revenue; revenue which could be used to hire more firefighters and police, clean our beaches, upgrade our sewers, fix potholes, create new parking and more."
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