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LA Neighborhoods Gain Ground in War on Oil Wells

Ashley Hernandez often woke up with a bloody nose as a child. Her parents thought it was heat related, but she also had the same constant headaches and breathing problems as other students at her school in the Los Angeles suburb of Wilmington. More than a decade later, Hernandez says the culprit was always just down the street from her bedroom: An oil well near a Little League baseball diamond and surrounded by homes…With over 10 million LA County residents living near 5,000 active oil and gas wells, residents are exposed to a variety of chemicals and pollutants. But in a strange twist, a group of residents living near drill sites were sued by the oil industry.

It began when residents sued the city of Los Angeles in 2015, claiming drill permits were issued at a high rate in poor neighborhoods without proper review of impacts to the community. The city’s actions, the residents said, amounted to a form of environmental racism.The following year, just as the parties reached a settlement, the oil trade group California Independent Petroleum Association (CIPA) that sought to join the lawsuit filed a cross complaint claiming industry interests would be impacted. A youth organizer for the environmental nonprofit Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), Hernandez said residents are being sued because they were able to make real progress over the oil industry’s practices…

CIPA declined to be interviewed for this article, but in a statement the trade group’s CEO Rock Zierman said California has some of the strictest environmental rules in the country and is not benefitting from the “energy boom” other parts of the country are experiencing. If left unchecked the state’s demand for energy will be met by “foreign imports” that do not have the state’s best interests in mind, Zierman said...

Part of the following stories

USA: Court dismisses strategic lawsuit brought by association representing oil & gas producers against nonprofits advocating for non-discriminatory drilling requirements

California Independent Petroleum Association lawsuit (re change in drilling permissions, USA)