City Council Approves 5-Year Phase Out Period of Oil Activity in Culver City
October 29, 2020
Culver City Council has unanimously voted to adopt a 5-year plan to phase out oil extraction and gas wells in the city's 78-acre portion of the Inglewood Oil Field (OIF).
At its Monday meeting, the council approved the Oil Drilling Subcommittee's recommendation to start studying and developing a program to remove all active wells, properly cap them, clean up and remediation of the site and provide a "just transition" for OIF workers in the next 5 years.
The Council resolution calls for the "establishment of 5-year phase out period for the amortization and removal of non-conforming oil in the city." It also directs staff to study and consider several components of an Amortization Program, including "just transition of workers, adequate bonding, adequate plug and abandonment procedures, complete remediation of the site, and outreach to clean-energy partners."
"This enshrines the direction taken in August," said Councilmember Meghan Sahli-Wells, who served on the Oil Subcommittee. She added that the amortization program will have a "lasting positive impact on our community."
On August 13, the council directed staff to develop a framework and timeline for the suspension of active wells, following a presentation on the Amortization Study. In addition, councilmembers discussed the possibility of litigation with Sentinel Peak Resource, owner of the oil field since 2017.
The study, conducted by Baker & O'Brien Incorporated, focused on options for an amortization program and ways to remediate wells and transform the site for beneficial reuse to the community. The study also revealed that the city's portion of the oil field is valued at $4.64 million.
At Monday meeting, councilmembers wanted to know when oil extraction would stop at OIF and when remediation of site would take place. But city staff assured them that all the inquiries will be addressed during the 5-year study period.
During the evening, various stakeholders addressed the Council on the topic. Most of them were in favor of the amortization, including the Sierra Club.
But, Jennifer Rivera, a representative of the California Independent Petroleum Association, spoke against the "irresponsible amortization plan," claiming the removal of oil wells would result in the "loss of good paying jobs at OIF."
She implored the body to postpone its decision until the new Council is seated in January. However, Sahli-Wells reminded her that this issue has been discussed by the Council for the past eight years.
Following the public hearing, the Council directed staff to develop and refine the components of an amortization program with an appropriate timeframe and to bring it back to the public and the future City Council.