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California Harbor City Ends Drilling Ban

Reversing actions it took just weeks earlier, the city council in Carson, CA, a Los Angeles suburb in the oil-producing area surrounding the Long Beach-LA Harbor, voted Thursday to end a ban on oil and natural gas drilling. Council members decided not to extend the 45-day drilling ban measure, which expires later this month.

The latest action allows the city to resume its consideration of plans by Occidental Petroleum Corp. (Oxy) to step up directional drilling from a 6.5-acre site in the city (see Daily GPI, March 20).

Labor unions representing oil workers lobbied elected officials, and the mayor reportedly had a long telephone conversation with Gov. Jerry Brown, who is backing a set of new rules for hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and other well stimulation processes that the state is in the process of implementing (see Shale Daily, Sept. 13, 2013).

Workers showed up at the latest council meeting advocating for the jobs the Oxy project would bring. A Los Angeles Economic Corp. analysis done in recent years was cited as concluding the project would bring an additional $8 million in state and local tax revenues, along with 330 jobs.

Concerns initially voiced with the Oxy project centered on fracking, but the company has said it will not have any fracking in its plans to drill up to 202 new wells (two test, 130 production, 65 saltwater injection, four saltwater production, and one slurry injection) and build an oil/gas treatment facility and various water infrastructure.

A draft environmental impact report concluded that the project would have no significant impacts; public comments are being gathered.

City officials supporting the expiration of the ban stressed that the city can gain various environmental and other protections in its negotiations with Oxy. However, the city attorney cautioned that once the ban expires, the city cannot revisit the issue of a temporary ban on drilling.

"If you're an individual committed to no new oil drilling in Carson's future, that is no longer on the table," City Attorney Bill Wynder was quoted as telling the city council in a Los Angeles Times report.

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