On Dec. 13, you wrote in the Grunion: “A land swap that would ultimately put 154 acres of the Los Cerritos Wetlands into public ownership and restore those wetlands is before the state Coastal Commission today, Thursday.”
It appears that you, like many of the public, are still under the impression that Beach Oil Minerals/BOM will be restoring all 154 acres of the wetlands in exchange for the approval to drill 120 new wells on the Pumpkin Patch and the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority (LCWA) 5 acres on Studebaker and Second Street.
The CCC staff report states: “The purpose of the project is to transition oil operations out of a 106-acre area of the wetland complex over a 20-year period to make it available for wetland restoration.”
BOM will be responsible for restoring only 30 acres in the northern portion of the Synergy Property in order to create a Mitigation Bank. The rest of the Synergy Property (about 75 acres) will be the responsibility of the LCWA (the cities of Long Beach, Seal Beach, the Rivers & Mts. Conservancy and the Coastal Conservancy) to restore once all the oil equipment is removed in 20 years.
BOM will also be removing the oil equipment from the 33-acre, city-owned wetlands on the south side of Second Street, east of the Market Place. However, it will be the city who is responsible for any restoration, none of which has yet happened in the eight years of city ownership.
While BOM is receiving 5 acres of public land for drilling, they will be destroying 8 1/2 acres of city wetlands for an above-ground pipeline corridor between the LCWA and the Pumpkin Patch sites. Once again, the city has come out with the short end of the stick.
With oil production at only 300 barrels a day, it is obvious that oil is running out on the Synergy and City sites. In 20 years, it will no doubt be completely depleted and DOGGR would have required BOM to do the same necessary clean-up of old equipment. While BOM cannot drill new wells on the Synergy property, they are allowed to repair existing pumps. If the pipes and wells are in such terrible condition, as BOM claims, they should either be removed or repaired right now and not wait for 20 years.
Instead, the Planning Commission, the City Council and now the Coastal Commission are allowing the drilling of 120 new wells; the possible production of 24,000 barrels of oil a day; an oil pipeline under Second Street and across the Newport/Inglewood fault; the possibility of a catastrophic oil spill in case of an earthquake; two 160-foot drilling rigs at two entrances to Long Beach; and 70,000 tons additional greenhouse gases annually wafting over College Park, Alamitos Heights, Naples and Belmont Shore. Get your inhalers ready.
The CCC staff identified Seven Serious Risks connected with this project, from sea level rise to negative impacts for endangered species to wetlands loss to the pipelines. Staff created 25 special conditions to attempt to mitigate these risks, however there were three risks for which there were no adequate mitigation: Cultural Impacts, Visual Impacts and Oil Spill Containment and Cleanup.
The staff report states: "Therefore, because the ability to effectively contain and cleanup an oil spill does not exist at this time, the Commission finds that the proposed project is inconsistent with the second requirement of Coastal Act Section 30232.” And this same statement of inconsistency was made for Cultural and Visual Impacts.
In spite of the Oil Spill dangers, the Cultural and Visual Impacts all being in violation of the Coastal Act, the Commission agreed with staff that these issues deserved over-rides because of the “public welfare.” The public welfare in this case appears to be BOM’s need to drill for oil.
The project still need approvals from the Army Corps of Engineers, CA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife and the Regional Water Quality Control Board. I pray that these boards will understand the risks to area residents’ health and safety and have the courage that Coastal Commissioners, Linda Escalante, Carole Groom and Mary Luevano showed to just say NO!
Ann Cantrell is a Long Beach resident.