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At Bakersfield-based oil company E & B Natural Resources The company’s president wanted to build wells in Hermosa Beach that would dig sideways through the ocean floor in 2013. He wanted the community’s trust.
“We understand that we not only have to show that we can be safe and environmentally conscious, but also create trust,” Steve Layton told the Los Angeles Times. But Hermosa Beach turned down Layton’s offer of confidence by turning down the proposed project.
Now environmentalists in Los Angeles say E&B Natural Resources violated the trust of another community after one of its pipelines at Inglewood Oil Field spilled more than 1,600 gallons of petroleum onto the ground on April 6, according to a state Spill report. A spokesman for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, who responds when wildlife or waterways are affected by petroleum spills, did not conduct an assessment as no wildlife injuries were reported.
The California Independent Petroleum Association is one of the most aggressive forces opposed to closer lobbying
Environment and climate regulations.
Oil producers have been drilling the Inglewood Field, the largest urban field in the country, since the 1920s, and have produced more than 400 million barrels of oil since then. Environmental justice activists have recently started raising awareness of the field’s health impacts on predominantly black surrounding communities.
The spill was relatively minor, but E&B Natural Resources is oversized in the industry and influencing California politics, in part because company president Layton is also chairman of the California Independent Petroleum Association. The trading group represents around 500 independent oil and gas producers in the state and is one of the most aggressive forces campaigning against stricter environmental and climate regulations.
Sabrina Lockhart, a spokeswoman for CIPA, said Layton chairs the association’s board meetings. He is listed in the group’s most recently available tax returns as the main person responsible for the association. Last summer he hosted a CIPA wine auction at his beachfront home in Long Beach.
E&B Natural Resources spokesman Ted Cordova did not make Layton available for comment or comment on the spill.
The Inglewood oil field has been used by several different companies over the years. Online records show it has been managed by Sentinel Peak Resources since 2016. Cordova has not clarified whether assets in this area have since been transferred to E&B Natural Resources.
Allegations of environmental racism
E & B Natural Resources is involved in an environmental group lawsuit over inactive wells in a crowded neighborhood in south LA next to homes and a health clinic. The Redeemer Community Partnership is suing the Los Angeles Fire Department for allegedly failing to plug the E&B Natural Resources wells at the Murphy drilling site, putting the community at risk from toxic fumes, carbon emissions and accidents.
“We see from week to week how this operator is driving this forward [Murphy] Drilling site under the influence of greed, with ruthless disregard for the health and safety of residents, ”said Richard Parks, president of the Redeemer Community Partnership, who describes the existence of oil operations there as“ environmental racism ”.
Environmental justice activists have raised awareness of the health impact of the Inglewood oil field on predominantly black surrounding communities.
While smaller LA County oil projects like the Hermosa Beach proposal have been rejected or tempered by voters or community pressure, the Inglewood field has spanned the line between Culver City and unregistered county land for nearly a century. It was completely unregulated by either jurisdiction until recently.
Following gas spills and odors in 2005 and 2006, the Plains Exploration & Production Company, which was operating the field at the time, reached out to the county for a legal framework. According to Martha Argüello, environmentalist and co-chair of the STAND-LA coalition and executive director of Doctors for Social Responsibility in Los Angeles, the process has been beneficial to the industry from the start.
Argüello says Culver City has gone to greater lengths than LA County to regulate its portion of the field and voted last October to see how it could wind down its oil wells. Argüello has been campaigning for the City of Los Angeles for years to establish 2,500 foot buffer zones between oil operations and homes. This distance is based on studies of the health hazards near oil and gas operations.
Above: Inglewood Oil Field and the surrounding area.
“It is not surprising” that the company responsible for the spill would share leadership with an oil lobbying group, according to Argüello. “Companies in these areas are consolidating strongly. There is a network and they are very well represented so we often find these relationships very challenging when trying to make health policies. “
These guidelines include a bill last year that would have established the 2,500-foot sanitary zone between human homes and oil operations nationwide. The bill died in a Senate committee; The California Independent Petroleum Association said killing the bill is a top priority. (Another bill making this sanitary zone is currently making its way through legislation after sweeping regulations on hydrofracturing and injection wells were removed.)
CIPA issues major combat oil regulations and climate laws
CIPA spent $ 1.35 million lobbying for industry-friendly action during 2019-2020, the most recent years for which data is available.
It succeeded in killing the health safety zone bill, and the association also opposed a bill that would have required better monitoring of groundwater quality and oil injection wells. bill requiring the State Air Resources Board to publish annual data on greenhouse gases and air pollutants from forest fires; and a bill directing regulators to prepare for sea level rise on the California coast. All died before going to the vote.
E & B Natural Resources is sued for inactive wells
in a crowded neighborhood in South LA
next to houses and a health clinic.
CIPA also opposed a bill that increased criminal penalties for oil companies who knowingly spill oil or fail to clean it properly. This bill was incorporated into law by Governor Newsom last September, but only after it was stripped of the strictest provisions.
Lobbying claims that CIPA donated around $ 1,896 each to several state lawmakers in March 2020, including Senator Steve Bradford, D, whose district includes the Inglewood field. Bradford and 10 other lawmakers also attended a CIPA-hosted event last year at Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa, a luxury resort half an hour north of San Diego. CIPA’s Sabrina Lockhart described it as a “fundraiser”.
A Bradford spokesman declined to comment. Bradford has received more than $ 160,000 in oil and gas industry contributions since 2000, according to CourageScore, a website managed by progressive groups.
Capital & Main also reported on CIPA’s role in tackling new oil and gas regulations in Ventura County that would have brought certain new wells into compliance with environmental regulations introduced in the 1970s. CIPA worked with a public relations firm to collect signatures against the regulations and successfully delayed their implementation until a vote in 2022.
According to an online profile, Layton has been operating E&B Natural Resources since 2000 and is a member of a number of other industry associations such as the National Petroleum Council. He is a third generation oil producer based in Texas and an outspoken advocate of smaller producers versus multinationals like Chevron.
In a previous interview, Layton described his beliefs about the environment and the oil industry.
“People assume that the members of the oil business don’t care about the environment when we really know that not only can oil be obtained safely and environmentally, but that the revenues from oil production can and do great Stuff. Indeed, the revenues from oil production can help provide the necessary means to build the bridge to a future beyond a hydrocarbon-based economy, ”said Layton.
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