Vote on Oil Drilling in Hermosa Set for Next March

Heal the Bay has been leading the fight to stop a scary proposal to open up the Bay to oil drilling in Hermosa Beach. You may recall that energy company E&B Natural Resources wants to erect an 87-foot drilling rig and up to 34 wells on a 1.3-acre plot six blocks from the beach. They want to extract up to 8,000 barrels of oil a day from underneath the seafloor. To do it, the company has to convince local voters to repeal an existing drilling moratorium in the city. We think it’s a terrible idea.

Well, after months of wrangling, the Hermosa Beach City Council has set a special-election date to decide the issue: March 3, 2015.

Shortly before 3 a.m., after hours of discussion, public input, and negotiation, the council elected to move forward with the ballot measure.  Originally, the council and community had been striving for a November 2014 election. But, E&B has continually maintained it has the right to set the election date based on a previous legal settlement with the city, and the oil company would not agree to November. Due to concerns about additional litigation, the council elected for a March date as a better alternative, which E&B’s president endorsed.

The final Environmental Impact Report for the proposed slant-drilling project accompanying the ballot initiative received City Council approval earlier this month. It identifies nine significant and unavoidable impacts: aesthetics, air quality, biology, hydrology, land use, noise, recreation, safety, and risk of upset (e.g. spills and explosions).

Additional studies, including the Health Impact Assessment and Cost Benefit Analysis, are expected to be finalized over the next month.

Heal the Bay will continue to oppose lifting the ban on oil drilling in Hermosa Beach, along with the E&B project. It’s an ill-conceived proposal that poses numerous ecological and economic threats to our coastline. Despite the allure of royalties to local residents, it’s simply not worth the risk.

We are pleased that the city and E&B collectively chose a date that diminishes the threat of additional litigation. We will continue to follow this issue closely and work with our community partners ahead of the election to educate voters and keep oil drilling out of our Bay.

What can you do to prevent oil drilling from taking place in Santa Monica Bay? Want to learn more? Check out our Take Action page.