PXP has asked permission to drill 24 new oil and gas wells over the next few months. In connection with this request, the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) prepared an Initial Study under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and concluded that the project would have no significant impact on the environment. As required by CEQA, the Initial Study was circulated for a 30-day public comment period. However, for reasons that have not been adequately explained, all Crest residents and the CCNA were excluded from the distribution list. Fortunately, we learned about the Initial Study shortly before the public comment period expired, and thanks to the quick and professional efforts or our member Ken Kutcher, we were able to file a comment letter ahead of the deadline protesting the proceedings and the action proposed by PXP.
In our letter we stated that the Initial Study should be recirculated so that we could have more time to review the proposal and would have a fair opportunity to read the Initial Study and submit comments.
On a substantive level, we argued that the new wells should not be allowed until a full environmental review has been conducted. We all remember being awakened by the horrific odors on January 10, 2006, and it seems self evident that a full and complete study must be done before we are subjected to the risk of a repeat incident. Additionally, there are numerous other environmental issues that should be carefully studied. These include questions such as the following: (i) separate and apart from the major incidents such as last year, are there any health risks from the smaller amounts of gas that are constantly being released, (ii) does the injection of water and other substances back into the wells create any risk of seismic events, (iii) what is the impact of the grading that PXP is doing on the site, (iv) is PXP taking adequate safety measures to protect against fire and explosions, and (v) how significant is the impact from the noise that we have all heard from PXP’s operations, and what steps should be taken to mitigate this?
We had several discussions with the City Attorney’s Office (which had not known about the Initial Study until we called it to their attention), and this week David E. Cranston, an attorney representing Culver City, also wrote a letter to DOGGR declaring that the Initial Study/Negative Declarations is “fatally flawed” and that the Study be withdrawn and a new study be conducted. This is in accord with the CCNA position. This should get the State to reconsider this issue. Much more to follow.