Hermosa Voters Reject Drilling for Oil in Bay

March 3, 2015 — Yessssss! No oil drilling in the Bay.

Voters in Hermosa Beach today overwhelmingly rejected an oil company’s proposal to begin oil drilling underneath the seafloor there, according to initial election returns. Heal the Bay staff and volunteers led the charge to defeat the ill-conceived project, which would have set a dangerous precedent for further oil exploration in L.A. waters.

E&B Natural Resources, a Bakersfield-based oil company, outspent Heal the Bay and other grassroots opponents nearly 10-to-1 in its losing bid to sink 34 wells in the 1.4-square mile coastal city. Big Oil may have deep pockets, but we have a secret weapon: you and thousands of other ocean lovers who simply can’t stand to see the Bay opened up to oil drilling.

Thanks to our supporters, Heal the Bay had the resources to mount a comprehensive and integrated 18-month campaign to halt the project. Staff and volunteers reviewed technical reports, canvassed neighborhoods, manned phone banks, organized community rallies, testified at City Council meetings, created newspaper ads and mobilized opponents on social media.

And you know what? It worked. Nearly 80% of voters rejected drilling in their town! We employed the same strategy in Hermosa that’s been Heal the Bay’s trademark for the past 30 years: passionate advocacy guided by sound science and consensus-driven community input. We are proud to be part of a broad-based coalition that helped protect the Bay, led by such champions as Keep Hermosa Hermosa, the Surfrider Foundation, the NRDC, Food & Water Watch and thousands of individual citizens.

The truth is that we dodged a bullet in Hermosa, but corporate interests continue to target the Bay for further industrial uses.

Our staff scientists recently collaborated with the NRDC on a detailed study that mapped the entire Los Angeles coastal zone and identified areas vulnerable to oil exploration. Many don’t realize it, but several areas underneath our local ocean are at risk, ranging from Long Beach to Malibu. Our policy team will remain vigilant and advocate against potential oil projects off our local coastline.

But we’re not just worried about drills and spills. The Bay faces other industrial threats. For example, corporations are drawing up plans to build desalination plants along the California Coast. In a time of water scarcity, energy-intensive desal plants shouldn’t take the place of smart water conservation and reuse. We shouldn’t just rubber stamp these potentially destructive plants, which suck up millions of gallons of seawater daily.

Whenever harmful proposals pop up, Heal the Bay will be there to gather the facts, do the analysis, speak up and push back when warranted. We’re proud to be the watchdog of the Bay. But to have any bite, we need the political and financial support of the community.

If this work is important to you, please consider contributing to our special Advocacy Fund this March. Any donations made this calendar month will be matched by a generous supporter who values our ongoing policy work.