Fracking for oil is happening in Baldwin Hills without proper concern for our health, safety or rights. Hydraulic Fracturing, or Fracking, is a controversial drilling practice involving pumping of immense quantities of water, chemicals and sand into the ground at very high pressure to break or fissure rock formations in the hope to access hidden pockets of oil and gas. Baldwin Hills is the home of the Inglewood Oil Field which is closely surrounded by a community of 300,000 people, and at 1100 acres it is the largest urban oil field in the country. Portions of the oil fields lie within and are bordered by Culver City, Los Angeles, Inglewood and Los Angeles county.

Baldwin Hills Oil Watch stands with Frack Free Culver City, Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community, Food and Water Watch & Grassroots Coalition in demanding a permanent BAN on fracking in all portions of the Inglewood/Baldwin Hills Oil Field.

We can take back our rights to health and safety.

We are calling upon our Culver City elected officials, our Los Angeles County elected officials, our California State elected officials and our relevant regulatory agencies (the Department of Conservation, DOGGR) to enact a BAN on Fracking (Hydraulic Fracturing) within Culver City limits, at the Inglewood Oil Field, in Los Angeles County, and in California respectively.

According to the Baldwin Hills Fracking Study, Plains Exploration and Production Co (PXP), a Texas based company and operator, partial owner, and leasee, has already fracked more than 2 wells using High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF) and over 830 instances of “Gravel-Pack” or conventional fracking.  We need to BAN fracking NOW to safeguard our community.

Fracking is unproven as a safe practice and is a concern in Culver City and the Baldwin Hills area due to the potential impacts and threats to health and safety of surrounding residents, communities and our environment. Some of these concerns include:

  • Long term effects of chemical-laden fracking fluids sequestered underground:
    • Gas and fluid migration along and up faults, well bores and fractured rock formation,
    • Eventual contamination of local groundwater, Ballona Creek, wetlands and Santa Monica Bay,
    • The environmental impacts of toxic, carcinogenic and other chemicals in the slick water fracking fluid on humans and wildlife,
    • The long-term result of eventual earthquakes on movement and release of fracking chemicals into our environment,
    • The redistribution of natural contaminants that normally stay deep underground — including heavy metals and radioactive material — which are contained in fracking and other oil-drilling waste-water,
  • Increased Hazardous Air Pollutant releases from the oil field and fracking surface operations:
    • Releases and blowouts in proximity of urban development endanger individuals in schools, homes and senior centers in Culver City and surrounding communities,
    • Impossibility to capture all leaking methane as emissions occur at every stage from drilling and fracking to the end-use of the natural gas,
    • Common oilfield and fracking chemicals include methanol, formaldehyde, carbon disulfide, H2S as well as volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides, benzene and toluene,
    • Greenhouse gases released as a byproduct of fracking challenge California’s AB-32 climate change plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 15-30% to 1990 levels,
    • Captured air pollutants must be disposed of as solid wastes,
  • Increased ground movements, land shifts, subsidence and uplift around residences above drilling and fracking locations,
  • Increased seismic activity and movement of the oilfield and surroundings along the Newport-Inglewood Fault zone and its branches,
  • Extremely large amounts of  clean water permanently removed from our drinking supply, the evaporation/precipitation cycle and made non-usable,
  • Absence of Spills/Releases and Emergency and evacuation plans,
  • Well casing integrity issues and leaks in general and with higher pressures from fracking as well as a required need for an extremely long term plan for well head monitoring and maintenance.

Culver City and the other communities of Baldwin Hills need to reclaim our rights to self-governance and demand a BAN on fracking. Culver City has a right to a Sustainable future and sustainable forms of energy. Oil is not sustainable and the long-term effects of fracking will be passed on as a health and safety problem to our future generations.

Fracking in The Inglewood Oil field

According to Dr Tom Williams, the Inglewood Oil Field has some vertical, slant, and directional wells which can be fracked, but PXP has to get formations hard enough to break/fracture easily rather than soft ones that would squeeze closed. So PXP needs to go deeper and find harder rocks, but in Baldwin Hills they are limited in depths. PXP can do only smaller, local fracks as suitable hard BaldwiFracking within the Baldwin Hillsn Hills formations are generally smaller, limited in area, and riddled with old abandoned wells. Frequent faults also break things up so PXP can’t do long fracks in Baldwin Hills. PXP may be extending wells away from the faulted zone in order to get larger fracks in source rock formations. PXP reports using over 160,000 gallons of water per well fracked vertically.

Hydraulic Fracturing is different than the subsidized Enhanced Oil Recovery process PXP also uses which injects thousands of gallons of clean and chemical mixed water, at non-fracturing pressures, to help sweep out additional oil. After use the contaminated water stored in tanks and portions are re-injected underground in waste disposal wells, or in the spent well to offset the removed water and oil.

Fracking is Unregulated

In California the term “fracking” is not legally defined as the State lacks laws and regulations governing and recognizing fracking. As such the States regulatory agency Department of Conservation (DOC), and the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR, a division of DOC) lacks a monitoring system and doesn’t know exactly when, where, by whom or how frequently fracking is occurring within California or even the location of any fracked well. According to industry insiders and the Environmental Working Group fracking has been occurring in California, but DOGGR has no records to prove 6 or 60 years. Despite this activity the public lacks any study on the effects of fracking on surrounding communities.

US Congress exempted fracking from federal environmental laws, including the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Clean Air Act. Our state organization DOGGR will not regulate or monitor fracking operations unless legislation demands it or there is “evidence of manifest damage and harm.” There are two bills working through the California Legislature, AB 591 and SB 1054 which would require oil companies to disclose important fracking-related information such as the location of each frack job, the amounts of chemicals and water used and notify neighboring property owners. Unfortunately they are only disclosure bills and don’t address any of the health, safety or community issues with fracking. We seek creation and enforcement of regulations up to and including banning fracking in our community. A movement is also supported by the Food & Water Watch to Ban Fracking in California as it has already been banned in Vermont.

Community Standards District, Lawsuit, Settlement and EIR

In 2008 four lawsuits were filed by Citizen’s Coalition for a Safe Community, the City of Culver City, Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles, Community Health Councils and the Natural Resources Defense Council to challenge the county allowing PXP’s to significantly increase oil drilling in Baldwin Hills. The lawsuit settlement agreement was reached last year includes provisions for increased air quality monitoring and mandatory, recurring health and environmental justice assessments. The Community Advisory Panel (CAP) meets monthly to help disseminate information of interest about the oil field activity in the Baldwin Hills to members of the wider community. The public CAP meetings are also the primary means in which community members can gain more information about the Baldwin Hills fracking study.

Culver City has a representative on the CAP but Culver City is not part of the CSD. Surface drilling and underground oil extraction and injection within Culver City limits is not protected by the CSD’s more rigorous regulations.

Boundary of Inglewood Oilfield, fracking within Culver City & Baldwin Hills

The Environmental Impact Report(EIR) was a requirement under CEQA for crafting the Community Standards District.  This EIR-CSD indicates that PXP planned to drill approximately 60 wells in Culver City by 2015 and another 40 by 2028.

Although Culver City has only 10% of the drilling surface area , Culver City’s underground portion is over 20% of the entire field as identified by DOGGR.

The oil and gas reserves in Culver City are predominately under residential homes and extend to City Hall, up to Venice and west post the Veterans Center Complex. A 2009 drilling plan included four wells to be drilled from the surface area of the oil field horizontally under Ballona Creek and into the Sentous formation which is at about 10,000 feet deep. PXP has been successful at exploiting this formation using hydraulic fracturing as a well stimulation technique. Culver City imposed 2 temporary  moratoriums on drilling in order to write its ordinances, both have expired and Culver City entered into an agreement with PXP until July 15, 2012.