It’s not just people fleeing the Bay Area — these businesses are leaving, too
Chevron was part of another generation’s departures from the Bay Area when they moved their headquarters from San Francisco back in 2001, but more recently, the energy giant also moved 400 jobs from San Ramon .
“At this point, it’s basically a truism that hordes of people are moving away from the Bay Area in search of sunnier, more affordable climes, yielding a U-Haul shortage and a whole mini-industry devoted to helping people relocate from the Bay Area.
It’s not just people, though (unless you count corporations as people, like the Supreme Court does). There’s also an exodus of businesses, some say.
This year, outdoor apparel brand the North Face announced plans to move its headquarters from Alameda to Denver in 2019 after Colorado offered the company millions in tax incentives. About 650 people work at….”
SoCal Gas Faces Violation Notice for Recent Aliso Canyon Gas Leak
|| NBC San Diego
Regulators contend that SoCalGas didn’t notify the community about the leak until more than two hours after it began.
“The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a violation notice to Southern California Gas Co. Friday stemming from a nearly hour-long gas leak that occurred Monday at the Aliso Canyon storage facility in Porter Ranch.
The notice accuses the gas company of causing a public nuisance, and regulators contend SoCalGas didn’t notify AQMD or the community about the leak until more than two hours after it began.
According to the AQMD, the leak was caused by the failure of a flange gasket, and SoCalGas did not notify the agency or the community about the leak until “more than two hours after it began.”
“We take all nuisance odor incidents seriously,” AQMD Executive Officer Wayne Nastri said. “SoCalGas and all facilities in our region have an obligation to protect residents from foul odors that can impact their communities.”
The Aliso Canyon facility was the site of the largest methane leak in U.S. history. That leak began in October 2015 and wasn’t capped until February 2016. Roughly8 8,000 families were forced from their homes, with many residents complaining of a variety of health issues. Many residents continue to call for the permanent closure of the facility.”
Gov. Brown to host fundraiser for senator facing possible recall to show ‘he’s got his back’ after tax vote, aide says
|| LA Times
“Gov. Jerry Brown is taking the unusual step of hosting a political fundraiser for state Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) because he thinks it is unfair that some activists are trying to recall Newman for his vote favoring an increase in gas taxes to pay for road repairs, Brown’s top aide said Monday.
The Brown camp also is skeptical that opponents of the gas tax bill will be able to carry out their threat of qualifying an initiative to repeal Senate Bill 1 but are prepared to do battle if it makes the ballot.
The governor was a leading proponent of the legislation, which passed the Legislature with no votes to spare and will raise $5.2 billion annually for road repairs and mass transit through an increase in gas taxes and vehicle fees.
“It is unusual for him to do an individual legislator’s fundraiser because if he did one he would have do to lots, but Josh is under unfair attack and so the governor wants to make sure he knows that he’s got his back — that’s why he is stepping out and doing this for him,” said Nancy McFadden, the governor’s top aide.
Brown is headlining a fundraiser on May 23 at de Vere’s Irish Pub in Sacramento, billed as an event to support Newman’s reelection campaign. Donors are asked to give up to $4,400 to Newman’s 2020 Senate campaign committee, although the money can be shifted to fighting a recall measure if one qualifies.
Recall papers were filed last month by Elvira Moreno and 59 others, with the aid of conservative radio talk-show host Carl DeMaio. They must collect 63,592 signatures of registered voters in 160 days to qualify the measure for the ballot.
Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) and others have also proposed an initiative drive to put a measure on the 2018 ballot to repeal the gas tax.
McFadden was skeptical the measure would make the ballot.
“We have done a number of initiatives over the past six years so we know how hard it is to qualify,” she said.
If it does qualify?
“We are going to defend the work we did. Absolutely,” McFadden said.”
New Mexico group makes its pitch to store San Onofre’s nuclear waste
|| Union-Tribune San Diego
“In the search for finding a place to move the 3.55 million pounds of nuclear waste from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), one question always comes up: Sure, it would be great to send all that spent fuel as far away from the beach as possible, but who would ever be willing to accept it?
On Thursday night, those attending the quarterly meeting of the SONGS Community Engagement Panel heard directly from representatives from a private entity looking to do just that.
One person’s waste is another person’s most valuable possession,” said John Heaton, who is leading a group called the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance that wants to build a massive nuclear storage facility in the desert of southeast New Mexico.
“We think it’s an important project for us in terms of jobs and capital investment in our part of the state,” said Heaton during a break in Thursday night’s meeting in Laguna Hills.
The facility has yet to be built but its ambitions are big. The New Mexico group has partnered with Holtec International, an energy company with extensive experience in the nuclear storage industry, to build a facility that would hold roughly 120,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel.
To put that figure in perspective, the now-suspended Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada was legislatively directed to accept 70,000 metric tons. And the total waste from nuclear plants across the country is estimated at 78,590 metric tons.
Pierre Oneid, senior vice president and chief nuclear officer at Holtec, said after Thursday’s meeting the entire process could move at a much faster rate than typical government-approved projects.
“We would commence construction immediately” once the project gets the OK, Oneid said. “We could be ready, if all the stars are aligned, by 2022.”
However, even if such a facility were built, it does not mean that waste at SONGS would be at the front of the line.
Spent fuel has been piling up for decades at nuclear plants across the country. The U.S. Department of Energy will determine the order of waste shipments but it is unclear how the agency will implement its policy when the time comes.
Another potential site for what’s called “consolidated interim storage” facilities, which are designed to house at least part of the waste accumulated at nuclear plants across the country, is in West Texas, not far from the proposed New Mexico facility.
Located outside of Andrews, Texas, the facility would be run by a company called Waste Control Specialists and could store about 5,000 metric tons of waste but with a footprint of 14,000 acres the site could be expanded. Like the New Mexico site, the company has filed a license application with the federal government.
Officials at Waste Control Specialists were invited to take part in Thursday’s meeting but David Victor, the Community Engagement Panel chairman, said the company is involved in a complex mergers and acquisitions process and postponed an appearance.
“Most people (in Texas and New Mexico) either don’t know what’s going on or the people on the street would tell you, no they don’t want it,” said Hadden, who flew in to attend the meeting. “When people do learn what’s happening they are alarmed and they want to take action to stop it.”
Another nuclear storage site in New Mexico — unaffiliated with the proposed Eddy-Lea facility — recently reopened after a radiation leak in 2014. The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) was shut down for almost three years after a waste drum of plutonium-contaminated debris ruptured.
“Things go wrong,” said Gary Headrick, co-founder of the advocacy group San Clemente Green, during the public comment period. “Things went wrong at WIPP … We gotta get this right.”
Thursday night’s meeting comes as discussion is heating up over nuclear waste. .
Edison officials are talking to representatives of Citizens Oversight, an East County-based civic group whose attorney, Michael Aguirre, has proposed moving SONGS waste to the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in Arizona, located about 50 miles from Phoenix. .
In Washington D.C., Rep. John Shimkus, R-Illinois, has a draft bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that aims to clear the way to return funding to Yucca Mountain and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, has introduced legislation to pave the way for consolidated interim storage sites.
The Trump administration, in a budget blueprint released in March, called for the Department of Energy to receive $120 million to start looking at possible solutions, specifically interim storage site and possibly resurrecting Yucca.”
San Onofre Community Engagement Panel to Discuss Off-Site Used Fuel Storage
“The San Onofre Community Engagement Panel (CEP) will discuss off-site storage of used nuclear fuel during its quarterly meeting May 11 in Laguna Hills. The CEP advises the owners of the retired San Onofre nuclear plant on decommissioning.
The meeting will include updates on proposed interim storage sites in Texas and New Mexico designed to accept used nuclear fuel from sites such as San Onofre. In addition, two U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials from the agency’s Washington, D.C. and Region IV offices will review federal oversight of decommissioning at San Onofre.
Tom Palmisano, vice president and chief nuclear officer for Southern California Edison, the decommissioning agent on behalf of the San Onofre owners, will provide an update on preparations to decommission the plant.
The regular quarterly meeting will be from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Laguna Hills Community Center, 25555 Alicia Parkway, Laguna Hills. Staffed information booths will be open from 4:30-5:30 p.m. There will be a public comment period and the meeting will be live-streamed via songscommunity.com.
SCE announced in June 2013 that it would retire San Onofre Units 2 and 3, and had begun the process to decommission the facility. SCE has established core principles of safety, stewardship and engagement to guide decommissioning.”
As tunnel with nuclear waste collapses in Washington, anger over spent fuel storage intensifies in Southern California
|| OC Register
“Just as activists planned to demand that San Onofre’s spent nuclear fuel be stored farther from the breaking surf, a tunnel containing nuclear waste collapsed at the troubled Hanford waste site in Washington, underscoring the hazards they hope to highlight.
The U.S. Department of Defense, which runs Hanford, evacuated workers closest to the collapse and told others to shelter in place. Responders are on the scene and reporting that the tunnel roof gave way in a 20-foot-by-20-foot area next to the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Facility, also known as PUREX, it said.
“There is no indication of a release of contamination at this point,” the DOD said in an update. “Responders are getting closer to the area where the soil has subsided for further visual inspection.”
The collapse was discovered during a routine surveillance of the area by workers, the agency said. The tunnels are hundreds of feet long, with about eight feet of soil covering them.
Activists in Southern California had planned to demand that the California Coastal Commission revoke the permit it granted Southern California Edison to bury millions of pounds of San Onofre’s spent waste in a “concrete monolith” just yards from the beach, for fear of similar, unanticipated breakdowns. The Commission will meet Wednesday through Friday in San Diego.
“Remarkably, the Coastal Commission says you can’t plant roses in the coastal area because they are non-native plants, but at the same time have approved a nuclear waste dump. Something is very wrong here!” said a statement by Ray Lutz of Citizens’ Oversight Projects in San Diego.
Such concerns will be repeated at the Laguna Hills Community Center on Thursday as well, when the volunteer San Onofre Community Engagement Panel, which advises Edison on San Onofre’s decommissioning, holds its quarterly meeting. The topic: off-site storage of used nuclear fuel.
The CEP will hear updates on potential storage sites in Texas and New Mexico, which could accept spent fuel from San Onofre and other commercial reactors if federal laws are changed. Two officials from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials will be on hand as well, and Edison vice president Tom Palmisano will update the crowd on decommissioning efforts.
The CEP meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Laguna Hills center, 25555 Alicia Pkwy.
As more aging reactors shut down, leaving “stranded waste” all over the country, momentum is building for the United States to finally find a solution to its half-century-old nuclear waste problem.
To encourage the development of nuclear power, the federal government promised to accept and dispose of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste from commercial reactors by Jan. 31, 1998. In return, the utilities operating nuclear plants made quarterly payments into a Nuclear Waste Fund to pay for disposal.
The utilities and their customers pumped about $750 million a year into the fund. But nearly two decades after the deadline once set to solve the problem, the DOE has not accepted an ounce of commercial nuclear waste for permanent disposal.
The nuclear industry sued the DOE and a federal judge said DOE couldn’t charge for a service it not only wasn’t providing but wouldn’t provide for many decades. Utilities across America stopped charging customers the disposal fee in 2014.
Even after spending more than $10 billion on a proposed Yucca Mountain, Nevada, disposal site, the Nuclear Waste Fund has about $36 billion that can go toward development of permanent or temporary storage.
The delays have left plants like San Onofre to figure things out for themselves. A trial was set to start last month over the legality of what has been dubbed a “beachfront nuclear waste dump,” but both sides agreed to sit down for settlement talks.
The likelihood that such talks would result in the immediate removal of the 3.6 million pounds of waste from the bluff overlooking the Pacific are slim, some observers said, as construction of the “concrete monolith” dry-cask storage system on site already is well under way, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Some hope that officials can be moved to at least store the waste on the inland side of Interstate 5.”
President Kamala Harris? She’s making the first moves for Obama 2.0
“Now’s the time prospective presidential candidates start taking the subtle but crucial behind-the-scenes steps that get them noticed by the political intelligentsia, and Sen. Kamala Harris is quietly following the script.
She’s making speeches to key national constituencies. She’s due for an appearance at a Washington think-tank panel full of chattering-class presidential favorites that the national media will be reporting and analyzing, probably for days. She’s been fundraising for colleagues and making sure that she is forming relationships with key national reporters.
They’re all boxes that prospective presidential candidates routinely check. It’s a chance to ultimately convince insiders they’ve got the gravitas and the fundraising chops to be taken seriously.
The California Democrat, sworn into office four months ago, insists she’s not thinking about a run for president. Her inner circle forcefully tries to tamp down 2020 speculation – after all, there is no upside to being seen as a new senator focused more on national political ambition than on California.
But the speculation is not going away, not with the absence of a clear Democratic presidential frontrunner and the party desperately in search and in need of a new generation of leadership.
“A lot of activists in the party would love to see a new leader step forward,” said Roger Hickey,” co-director of the progressive strategy group Campaign for America’s Future.
Harris is being closely watched.
“Looking forward to see how she performs as a senator, I think that the sky is the limit for her,” said Jaime Harrison, associate chairman and counselor of the Democratic National Committee.
So far, Harris has leaped into the political spotlight with a resume that screams potential presidential material. She’s 52, a generation younger than better-known favorites such as Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts or former Vice President Joe Biden.
“From everything I’ve seen of her she’d be an attractive candidate, she could be a compelling candidate, and I think she’d have a lot of appeal for primary voters,” said Bob Shrum, a senior adviser to the presidential campaigns of Al Gore and John Kerry.”
Sen. Kamala Harris likely to face lawsuit over California attorney general conduct
|| Washington Examiner
“Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., will likely lose an effort to get a judge to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that she abused her authority as California’s attorney general.
On Wednesday, a San Diego dstrict court judge indicated the allegations likely have enough merit to go to trial.
“At this juncture, given the limited scope the court has to view these allegations … it seems almost inconceivable the court could grant a motion to dismiss,” District Court Judge Conzalo Curiel said, according to Courthouse News.
The lawsuit by Prime Healthcare Services, a national healthcare company, alleges that Harris imposed onerous requirements on its efforts to purchase another healthcare company. Prime claimed that Harris did this to benefit the Service Employees International Union, which was seeking to organize its workers. SEIU had donated to Harris’s 2010 and 2014 campaigns for attorney general as well as her 2016 Senate.
The California attorney general’s office oversees the sale and purchase of nonprofits and their assets. In most cases, the office required that any company purchasing a healthcare provider nonprofit had to maintain the nonprofit’s current level of services for at least five years. Harris expanded that requirement to 10 years in the case of Prime’s attempt to purchase the Daughters of Charity Health System.
Prime contended that the change made the planned $843 million sale “financially unviable” and was done deliberately by Harris to undermine it as part of a “quid pro quo” with SEIU. “The only time Attorney General Harris veered from that pattern (of requiring five years) was with respect to Prime and the 10 years condition for the first time,” said Prime’s attorney John Mills.”
– Senate candidate and current California Attorney General Kamala Harris was asked her opinion on a recent Public Utilities Commission plan to keep the San Onofre nuclear waste on site for the foreseeable future. Harris declined to answer stating as AG she was representing the CPUC as well as conducting a criminal investigation into the CPUC and the plant closure deal.
The moderator correctly pointed out that the two issues were not related when Harris let out the bombshell that she was conducting a criminal investigation into the nuclear plant and ‘the conduct that took place there.’
This appears to the tip of a very large iceberg here. In the middle of her Senate campaign, Kamala Harris faces a huge conflict of interest in a major scandal. The deal ironed out between the CPUC and Edison was clearly illegal, Harris has evidence as the result of a search, and now we find that Gov Jerry Brown is refusing to release emails related to the matter.
– The San Diego Union-Tribune published an article on the issue the moderator is raising here
Gov Jerry Brown Refuses to Release emails and other records related to the backdoor Edison deal that stuck the rate payers with a 3.4 billion bill | Why?
“But while the criminal division of the state Attorney General’s Office is pursuing the criminal probe, the civil division of the office is supporting Gov. Jerry Brown in his fight against disclosing emails between his office, the PUC and utilities during the period decisions were being made about how to pay for the costs of closing San Onofre.
Recent coverage of the case in the San Diego media has featured sharp criticism of Harris’ dual role in dealing with the scandal.
“In this case, for the [attorney general] to investigate the communications with the [California Public Utilities Commission] while representing a potential witness who is a potential subject of the investigation is a conflict,” former San Diego County District Attorney Paul Pfingst told KPBS.
“One of the problems with the conflict is it invites the attorney general to narrow the investigation to avoid the conflict,” former San Diego City Attorney Mark Aguirre told the San Diego public broadcasting affiliate.
“If the investigation into the Public Utilities Commission involves the nuclear power plant, and that is something that’s the subject of the governor’s emails they are trying to keep secret, then I think there is a conflict,” Georgetown University law professor Paul F. Rothstein told the Union-Tribune. “The Attorney General’s Office should probably turn over one or the other of these cases to an independent counsel.”
“Government works best when it shines light on problems, not seeks to keep the public in the dark,” University of San Diego law professor Shaun Martin told the newspaper, criticizing Harris for helping efforts to keep public records from being released to the media.”
Attorney general Kamala Harris’s predictable “malpractice”
– San Diego Reader
Statute of limitation runs out on San Onofre investigation
“On March 26, 2013, an executive of California Edison, Stephen Pickett, had a clandestine meeting with Michael Peevey, then president of the California Public Utilities Commission, at a hotel in Warsaw, Poland.
At this meeting, Peevey sketched out a strategy for Edison (majority owner of the now-shuttered San Onofre power plant) and San Diego Gas & Electric (minority owner) by which they could pass on the decommissioning costs of closing San Onofre to ratepayers, who had nothing to do with the mismanagement that led to the shutdown. Later, the commission approved a deal, which was very similar to what Peevey had suggested in Warsaw: ratepayers would pick up the tab for a whopping $3.3 billion. (Edison and SDG&E already had among the highest utility rates in the nation.)
The state attorney general’s office investigated and recovered the notes from that Warsaw meeting. Those notes were a smoking gun for obstruction of justice. But skeptics guffawed: attorney general Kamala Harris was running for the U.S. Senate. She wouldn’t dare cross Peevey pal and fellow Democratic governor Jerry Brown — whose sister Kathleen has been on Sempra Energy’s board of directors since 2013. (Sempra is the parent company of SDG&E.) The skeptics doubted that Harris would actually pursue a prosecution.
The skeptics were right.
Last month, the three-year period of the statute of limitations ran out. Unless the attorney general’s office investigates another angle on this case, Peevey, Edison, and Brown will skate. Harris did the same in the case against San Bruno, which suffered the destruction of a neighborhood and several deaths from an explosion that Pacific Gas & Electric will have to throw some money in the pot for. At least, in the San Bruno case, federal investigators have moved in. But “the feds are missing in action” on San Onofre, says San Diego attorney Mike Aguirre.
“For her to let the statute go is malpractice,” says Aguirre.
Harris has not put anything close to sufficient firepower on the case, as she has stalled it to advance her own political career. Since that Warsaw meeting, the legislature has passed bills to reform the utilities commission. Brown vetoed them.
Meanwhile, Aguirre and his law partner Maria Severson are fighting the San Onofre battle and have not been able to get copies of emails that are essential to the case.”
“In the morning while walking to her car, Michelle Kennedy sometimes detects a smell like cat urine. She says the asthma her 6-year-old suffers seems to have worsened.
Kennedy suspects the oil and gas wells pumping in her South Los Angeles neighborhood. She was especially troubled to hear from neighbors that acid was being injected in some wells roughly a mile from her home.
Now, partly in response to concerns raised by Kennedy and her neighbors, the City Council on Friday moved toward banning hydraulic fracturing, acidizing and other controversial methods of coaxing oil and gas from wells, agreeing to draft new rules that would prohibit “well stimulation” until adequate environmental safeguards are adopted by state and federal governments.
Activists argue that methods such as hydraulic fracturing, often referred to as fracking, can taint water or trigger earthquakes when wastewater is injected underground.
“Until these radical methods of oil and gas extraction are at the very least covered by the Safe Drinking Water Act, until chemicals are disclosed and problems are honestly reported, until we’re safe from earthquakes, until our atmosphere is safe from methane leaks, we need a fracking moratorium,” Councilman Paul Koretz told a cheering crowd before the meeting.
Hydraulic fracturing frees up pockets of oil and natural gas trapped in shale using injections of water mixed with chemicals. Acidizing, which is more commonly reported in Los Angeles, involves injecting such chemicals as hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acid into wells. Such “extreme extraction methods” use chemicals that can harm the skin, eyes and respiratory system and cause cancer, said Angela Johnson Meszaros, general counsel for Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles.
Oil and gas companies say fracking and other well stimulation technologies are safe, proven ways to yield more energy and generate jobs. Nick Ortiz of the Western States Petroleum Assn. told council members at a meeting this week that such methods had “never been associated with any confirmed case of groundwater contamination.” Business groups such as the Valley Industry and Commerce Assn. also contended that Los Angeles doesn’t need new rules because California lawmakers passed fracking regulations last year.
“This is a solution looking for a problem,” said Rock Zierman, chief executive of the California Independent Petroleum Assn. He cited a yearlong study of the Inglewood Oil Field, which found that hydraulic fracturing had no effect on the environment or the health of people living nearby.
Environmental watchdogs said the Inglewood study failed to examine long-term risks, such as chemicals possibly sullying groundwater. Other research has raised concerns about increased levels of methane in drinking water wells near fracking operations in Pennsylvania. Many environmentalists say the new state regulations didn’t go far enough.
Under the state law, “We’re basically telling people, ‘Let yourself be guinea pigs and we’ll study this. If this is a problem, we’ll tell you after the fact,'” said Brenna Norton, Southern California organizer for the environmental group Food & Water Watch.
When a neighbor recently told Lillian Marenco that acid had been used at nearby wells, she clapped her hands over her cheeks. “Oh, God,” she said. One drilling site is down her Budlong Avenue block. A pungent smell lingers over the home where Marenco tends her garden.
Acid has been used for “well stimulation” there in the last year, according to data reported to the South Coast Air Quality Management District. But what that means is in dispute. The company that operates the wells, Freeport-McMoRan, says it undertook “routine maintenance operations” using low volumes of acid, not “acidizing” as activists have described it.
The debate underscores a key question facing the city: How to properly word the proposed fracking ban.
Freeport-McMoRan spokesman Eric Kinneberg argued that the “generic scope” of the current proposal “could prohibit even routine well maintenance activities.” Neighborhood activists have the opposite worry — that a ban won’t be comprehensive enough.”
Question: Where is the environmental governor? Where is Jerry Brown on poisoning our environment? He was missing in action when the Aliso Canyon gas leak destroyed the lives of 5000 Californian families. Governor Moonbeam as usual is MIA again. /CJ
Identifying mystery rotten egg smell attacking SF this week
– SF Curbed
“It sounds like the setup for a joke, but apparently more than 50 people on Wednesday really did report a mysterious and overpowering odor of rotten eggs across the city.
It wasn’t a gas leak, it wasn’t a chemical or oil spill at sea, and it wasn’t the Chevron refinery acting up.
Which is all great news, but that leaves the lingering (literally—some people are still smelling it) mystery of what it actually was?
Some people will tell you that the mysterious smell of rotten eggs mean your house is haunted. So there’s that.
On a slightly less outlandish note, mysterious odors are sometimes simple mass hysteria: One person kinda-sorta thinks he or she smells something, and within minutes the mistaken impression spreads.
But assuming there was a natural, material source for the weird affliction, it turns out there’s a lot of precedent to consider.
For whatever reason, mystery waves of rotten egg smell are quite common in coastal cities.”
What it’s like to have 30 oil & gas wells as neighbors
“The first thing Don Martin asks me is if I want the little picture or the big picture. Big picture, I tell him, and he leads me from the gate of his apartment complex to the driveway of his next-door neighbor.
Martin’s neighbor is Freeport McMoRan, a company worth $30 billion. Freeport’s property beside Martin is just one tiny sliver of an empire that spans continents and includes some of the largest gold and copper mines in the world.
But Freeport is not mining for precious metals next to Martin — this is Los Angeles. Instead, Freeport is drilling for oil. It’s hard to see from the street. If you’re driving through West Adams, a tightly packed residential neighborhood in south central L.A., you’re liable to miss the whole operation.
From the road, all you can see is a strip of manicured lawn, egg-shaped hedges, and a green cement wall. Before a soundwall (which looks like canvas hung several stories from metal I-beams) was erected last year and a drilling rig peaked over the top, most neighbors had no idea this was a facility that includes more than 30 wells, 22 of which are active oil and gas wells. Pipelines snake out from here underground in a matrix that connects two sister sites, each about a mile and a half away in opposite directions. All three sites are owned by Freeport McMoRan Oil and Gas, acquired in 2013 when Freeport gobbled up oil company Plains Exploration.
The Freeport property next to Martin’s apartment is known as the Murphy drill site (named after the Daniel Murphy mansion, which was demolished in 1960 to drill the wells). We can’t see inside the site, and a large sign warns of no trespassing. Another smaller says that, “This area contains chemicals known by the state of California to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm.”
“They want to keep us out, but do they keep their chemicals in?” asks Martin.
To answer his question he leads me back into his apartment complex, St. Andrews Gardens, a sprawling arrangement of stucco units each a couple of stories high. We stand in a small parking lot, and even with the drilling tower looming behind him Martin is imposing in stature, with a broad build, bald head, and a white mustache and goatee. But he has a gentle demeanor. As he talks, his words indicate a growing outrage, but his voice never rises.
Other than Freeport’s wall, this plot of asphalt is the only thing that sits between an industrial operation and the open windows of residents’ homes, he says.
The first thing I notice is the smell — it’s the kind that makes your stomach turn and your head feel light — like you’ve taken too many deep breaths next to a gas pump. About 30 yards from us is cluster of kids who have gathered at a play area at the end of the parking lot to ride bikes, shoot hoops, and hang out.”
Mapping All 3,000 of Los Angeles’s Active Oil Wells
– Curbed Los Angeles
“Los Angeles is an oil town and it has been for a long time. We know oil flows throughout LA in underground pipelines, that there is oil being extracted from under the Beverly Center right now, and that even pampered Beverly Hills High has a flowery, art-bedecked oil derrick (for now). But somehow the exact numbers are still surprising: there are now 3,000 active oil wells in LA County, says the LA Daily News. Would you like to know where they are? An interactive map created by the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources of the California Department of Conservation allows users to locate all the wells in California, see who maintains each one, and view information about permits on the wells—way more transparent than the Skull-and-Bones-level secrecy surrounding pipelines. (We highly recommend this page about how to work the map.) Go ahead: put in your address and see what’s gushing nearby.”