Martha Dina Argüello:

My name is Martha Dina Argüello I’m the executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility and a co-founder of Standing Together Against Any of the Drilling and actually a co-founder of [inaudible 00:00:11] as well. And we have one of us, because he’s missing, Quan who was going to be here and he had a medical problem and between Monica and I, I think we’ll cover some of that. But I just want to start with a little bit of background that is us Monica Embry, Kyle and myself. So I want to talk a little bit about Los Angeles. But can’t see though actually, so it’s one I see that screen or I see you, and I see all of you. Standing together against neighborhood and each other in Los Angeles, when a number of community folks that I’ve worked with for many years in the housing area. And we’ve done low project homes and led work preventing poisoning, asthma incidents and impact in South Los Angeles.

Martha Dina Argüello:

And I got a call one day saying, “Our community folks have been reporting, getting some of the things that we’re hearing, our adult concept asthma, bloody noses, nausea, dizziness.” She said, “We think it’s coming from the site. You know what happens back there. And the Community Housing Corporation actually owned, built several buildings in the community. And one that was actually exactly across the street from the oil drilling site.” So after that call, I’ve started looking figured out what’s back there. And there was an old oil well with a really long and bad history of operation.

Martha Dina Argüello:

So Los Angeles was built in stolen water and stolen oil and stolen land. And this is actually the name that I lived in park Glendale. And that’s what it used to look like over a hundred years ago. And then after World War II folks wanted the land and you see who vied for that land. And what they won is that we moved oil off the coastal areas and we stopped pulling it out of the beaches. We came to that 1960s and I remember going to the beach this late sixties, mid sixties maybe and coming out of the water with oil on my legs.

Martha Dina Argüello:

You know what it was. And what we do know is that basically now the scientists catching up with the communities know that the concentration of drilling sites has a long legacy in headlining and grocery restricted covenants. And in environmental racism that decided some communities would stop posting oil drilling sites, other communities would get more protections. The communities in south LA and in Wilmington, along those fence on the refineries and we got the Central Valley. We’re not going to get the same protections that was white land that was fought for.

Martha Dina Argüello:

So we came together, standing together against the drilling. We had our first, before we had a name, vision meeting in Long Beach, because when we started this work, she was, I can’t remember what year but that was the same year there was an attack on CEQA. And we had a community event to educate community members from about five different grassroots organizations, including the Central Valley all came up to LA. And that was the first workshop that we had around oil drilling and the issues then because of the politics, that we needed a win in a local area. And we thought that with LA, who knew that we would win in Arvin with a 300 foot setback before we got to LA. But a few days ago, the mayor in his state of the city declared their opening, a new book and that new book is without oil drilling in Los Angeles.

Martha Dina Argüello:

That would be great if that’s where actually what’s happening. So the city still hasn’t voted and we’re still waiting for the policy to move forward. And then we created the Vision Coalition, which was to address issues of setbacks at the statewide level. And then we started, everyone was talking about stopping fracking. And we said, “Well, you can stop fracking but that’s not what is happening in the communities and neighborhood.” So we had to really shift the narrative, shift where the advocacy was going to be able to do this work. And it was always rooted in the fact that we know California’s number seven for oil production, 142 millions barrels of oil in 2021. It’s about a 105,000 total oil and gas wells throughout the state of California, many of them concentrated again within the Central Valley, in Culver, Bakersfield and in Los Angeles. In the city of Los Angeles, about 900 active wells and the people can tell you from the county.

Martha Dina Argüello:

We also have them in the county, I’m looking at my friend here who grew up in Montebello with the oil wells. So it is ubiquitous in Los Angeles. It’s, all of and throughout the Central Valley. So what are the impacts? The impacts among the drilling sites also the truck traffic, the derricks and chemicals are being stored. The pipeline that’s underneath all of those present an acceptable level risk for communities. Many of these same communities are also dealing with commuter tax. I often say our cup is full, our cup or risks and our cup of hazards are full. The numbers is enough to get registered. Again, currently the largest producer and one in five Californians live within one mile of oil and gas. We know some of the studies that were done at the Kern County Health Department, there is no safe distance. You can feel the impacts from a mile away if there’s a catastrophic accident or an explosion. There is no safe distance in ever mile.

Martha Dina Argüello:

And again, these are disproportionate and impact the communities throughout the state of California. And health effects, runny noses, nose bleeds, headaches, dizziness, eye felt skin irritation, adverse birth outcomes, for earthquake respiratory element ailments and endocrine destructor. And my background is in on toxics. So one of the things that we found was that they were using chemical moderates. It smelled like rotten apples or jasmine, there was nothing capping. And think of them as industrial strength and size blade. So those smells were being put into the communities. These we know have valves and are endocrine disruptors, but because they’re not actually used to drill nobody reports on them. So we’ve been very active in trying to push that these actually get acknowledged that they get used, what is being used, because we don’t know what’s in them. Right? And many of those kinds of scents have a trade secrets.

Martha Dina Argüello:

So for me as from a toxicology point of view, it’s a really problematic practice. And one of the things that we found and why our organization is really critical to the efforts is that much of these, the impacts of putting to oils have not been studied. And the assumption is if there’s no data, there’s an assumption of safety. And we believe that this is the opposite, lack of data does not mean safety and means we should be cautious and take a precautionary approach. And that is not the regulatory approach that we take. And I think I’ll hand it over to my friend Monica, who has been a great ally in this work since we started.

Monica Embrey:

So as Martha was just explaining, we’ve got oil wells, literally right next to where we live, work, play and print. All of these photos are photos of existing oil wells in Los Angeles. You see them right next to homes, parks and playgrounds, schools, farmland, and aquifers. And part of the issue that we see is not just the single impact of these oil wells and the toxicants. Over 200 known toxins coming from the production of oil, but also the compounding impacts. So when we look at the impact of our most recent global health pandemic, we know that there’s a direct correlation between the likelihood of contracting and dying from public and air pollution.

Monica Embrey:

And knowing that there are many different types of their toxins that are coming from oil wells actually meant that communities on the frontline aren’t just more likely to get asthma or cancer or birth defects but also COVID. And so, these compounding health effects is a major reason that many of us have come together. We’re thrilled to follow leadership of [inaudible 00:09:09] and STAND LA and environmental justice organizations that are really leading the challenge here and actually apologize and [inaudible 00:09:18]. And for many of us, this is personal.

Monica Embrey:

So as Martha showed on that first screen, you saw those old oil derricks lining the way. This is also the neighborhood that my family grew up in, including my cousin, Fadin, who you see here. And all of those black dots currently represent the oil wells, majority of which are unplugged. And even though there’s not active oil coming out of those wells, the off gassings of toxins continue. And so the health impacts are really real for many of us. My cousin died two years ago to a rare blood disease, a blood cancer that can be associated to the impacts come from oil. And many of the community members that I’ve had the privilege of getting to know and talk to have stories about their husbands, their wives, their kids, their grandparents, their cousins who have died from this. For far too many of us, it is very personal and very real. So I live just down the street from all of these oil wells as well.

Monica Embrey:

And the message is really clear our communities shouldn’t be killing us. The zip code that we’re born in or live in should not determine our life expectancy or our health. And that really is what this fight around the oil and extraction is about. And so, hope Martha I covered part of what Quan was going to cover about him and wishing him well. And now I’m going to pivot to talk about what we can do about this problem and specifically some incredible local policy solutions that we have come up with to help advance at LA County. And so here across LA County, there are over 6,000, almost 7,000 oil wells. About half of them are active and half of them are idle.

Monica Embrey:

And so the difference between those as an active well means oil is coming out of that and idle well means that for the last 24 months, for two years, no oil has been produced. However, that idle well has not been plugged in, abandoned, heard secretary speak this morning about the need to actually properly plug and abandon oil wells, that’s the term we use to say close them and properly seal them. Right? And so, for far too many of these communities, actually all the purple dots are idle. And underneath them, you’ll see some of those green dots which are active. And the highest concentration of these in Los Angeles continue to be in communities of color and low income communities across South LA and other parts. This is a photograph from Signal Hill, just near Long Beach community that has oil wells, literally right in people’s backyards. And in other communities like Beverly Hills, they’re a little bit more hidden.

Monica Embrey:

So you can see impacts like that Tower of Hope as it’s name at the Beverly Hills High School. That isn’t a beautiful art form, that’s actually an oil well. And part of what happened is that Beverly Hills actually took responsibility for the oil wells in its community because they have an economic resource to do so and have started to pay to help clean those up. But what about the rest of us? What about communities that don’t have the capital to be able to close their oil wells? So in LA County, we have five woman board of supervisors who oversee multiple county departments and have led an incredible effort to start addressing oil drilling.

Monica Embrey:

And this is the kind of policy example that we’re going to go in today. So what are the steps that need to take to address neighborhood oil wells? First, we need to make sure we prohibit all new oil and gas extraction wells. We cannot continue to permit new ones as we’re working to phase-out existing wells. Second, we need make sure we phase-out all current oil drilling and take the steps to do so by first designating oil drilling is illegal. And secondly, using a legal study to determine the fastest possible timeline with which we can shut down those wells. And third, we actually have to clean up oil and gas wells.

Monica Embrey:

So we have to make sure that we’re not just leaving these legacy pollutants around, but continue to do so. So as Martha, I mentioned across the state, there are a 105,000 oil wells. About a third of those are idle, which means oil and gas operators have gotten away with poisoning their communities, making methane and other toxic events, even when they’re not making money on those wells because our regulators aren’t holding accountable enough to clean them up. And so for our oil and gas cleanup, we’re calling for a pilot program and securing the resources we need to actually make sure we can clean them up. Predominantly holding the industry accountable because we believe polluters should pay not people for the mess.

Monica Embrey:

And then we’re going to talk about a Just Transition and specifically about what it means to develop a strategy about displaced fossil fuel workers. Those brothers and sisters and unions and non-union jobs who’ve been working for years in these fields and how do we transition them justly to a new economy but also the communities. Those of us who have been living on the front line of oil drilling and how to ensure we actually get some of those new jobs in the new economy and also are able to help advance healthy solutions so that you can live, work, play and break.

Monica Embrey:

So LA County has land use schools. Different regulators and different areas are allowed to oversee them. LA County has a possibility to develop use, and they have two different current regulations. Title 22 is their zoning coordinates. And a community standard is a special land use for a specific area. And in both of these, the county currently has rules in the books to help protect the health, safety, public welfare and environmental resources of the company in regards to oil drilling. And making sure that our oil drilling doesn’t have these negative impacts. And so what’s been really critical and what our coalition has done in partnership with many partners is figure out how do we update these policies to actually genuinely protect health, safety and welfare because we know oil drilling is incompatible with those schools.

Monica Embrey:

And so first step I said is make it illegal. So you’ll get a copy of these slides after, but so this is literally the motion language that we helped pass unanimously in the fall and September 15th. And so the first step is to direct the agencies to make it illegal. You modify the current rules to say we are going to prohibit all new oil and extraction wells in all zones. And so make sure that those are not allowed any longer. No new permitting and all existing permitting is not allowed.

Monica Embrey:

The second step of this process is that study. And specifically me using an amortization study, which is to look at what is the amount of money that the industry has currently put into these wells and how much have they already recruited in costs, because there’s a legal term that many of you haven’t heard before about takings. And the concern of our state and local regulators and local governments to not stock oil drilling in its existing form because they can get sued for takings. This is the legal way that we ensure that the industry is no longer entitled to drill because they are not entitled to drill forever.

Monica Embrey:

They’re entitled to drill up until their costs are recovered according to our current law. And so this says, let’s study, how much have they put in? How much have they already gotten out? What is that timeline? The city of Culver City has already committed amortization study for their wells and found that they were fully amortized last year. That means all of the wells in Culver City would be shut down immediately because the industry has already recruited all of their costs. We imagine a very similar timeline for other wells across LA. And this is a critical step to ensure that our county is actually moving to phase-out these existing wells and not just sitting back in their heels and saying, “Well, we can’t get sued by the industry on takings.” Amortization study is how we go around that.

Monica Embrey:

And then this third part, cleaning them up. And so we had a subsequent motion. We did multiple motions on the same day. The second motion was about figuring out a pilot program for how do we clean up oil wells. How do we address the workforce issues? How do we prioritize which wells get cleaned up first and to what standards? And so this is a program that we are launching in LA County to really start addressing the 3000 wells that are unplugged all across the region.

Monica Embrey:

And fourth, we do want a Just Transition. And as we heard professor Mijin Cha of this morning, making sure it is both a transition away from fossil fuels towards a clean energy future and just. So that both the workers and the community members who have born the brunt of these negative impacts can be placed in a new economy. And so, I’m proud to sit on a countywide task force for the Just Transition. This is the second iteration of this motion that Sierra Club has sponsored both times, really calling for us to address this. And I sit next to the building traits and IBEW, and the plumbers and pipe fitters, and environmental justice partners and [inaudible 00:18:09] and academics. And we sit together and have hard conversations about what does it mean to transition our oil and gas workers. And what does it mean to really clean up these sites so that communities get the beneficial use and not that corporate developers come in and then get to take over these lands and determine what happens next.

Monica Embrey:

And really want to credit Movement Generation and APEN for this concept of a Just Transition. Thinking about what does it mean to lead an extractive economy that’s built on military, oil and gas and the concentration of wealth and power on the hands of fuel. And instead invest is going to be general economy, one that’s based and run on clean river energy, resilient for all people with safe and affordable housing and economic opportunities so that all of our communities thrive. And so really thinking about Just Transition having a plan for displaced workers, full cycle mediation, and use policies and the financing of these solutions.

Monica Embrey:

And so our current LA task force and it is leading way for not just oil gas wells but also, refineries fossil fuel power plants, and many other industries that are willing to transition out of it. And answering these three questions will be a critical conquest to move forward. And so yeah, this is people’s backgrounds and it should be, not any longer. Instead, this place which is Baldwin Hills, the highest concentration of African Americans in LA County should instead look like this, which is a vision of the future that community members actually put together. They call it the central park of the west. This is a park core area and to ensuring that we can actually turn these areas, which are ironically not being developed into housing or commercial business for industry because of those oil wells, gets preserved. And the hundreds of acres that are here can act, it’s almost a thousand, can actually get turned into a recreation area with hiking trails and be a thriving community for wildlife and for people. And so that is the vision that we are calling for. And with that I hand it over to Kyle.

Kyle Ferrar:

A great presentation, a 1,000 acres. I’ve been there looking down from the top and that would be a great change. All right. Thank you for having me. My name is Kyle Ferrar I’m the Western program coordinator of FracTracker Alliance. I’ve been working on frack related issues with focus on exposure assessment and environmental justice for about 15 years now. And the FracTracker Alliance is a vital agency and it was born from a project I was working on in 2010 to get data and create data transparency around as well as in [inaudible 00:21:17]. And since we’ve expanded we’ll be working here in California. So I’m going to talk about three topics. First and foremost we’ve heard about is the need for a company called Setbacks. I’m a data guy, so I’m going to talk a bit about what that really means and the implications of it.

Kyle Ferrar:

The second topic is going to focus on California’s current well permitting processes, policies out there, what’s happening in the state. And then number three, I’m going to talk about the only emissions regulation that exists for small producer sites for oil and gas wells that you would see when you’re driving around and the ones that you’ve seen in the previous slides and in the previous presentations. All right. So you just released a report FracTracker release report on our website fractracker.org and it’s details the implications of a 3,200 foot setback, the results discuss the communities who are impacted by the oil drilling and frame it in terms of the environmental justice issue that it is. So the main results of the environmental justice piece really show that communities of color make up the largest proportion of the population in the setback zone as a whole.

Kyle Ferrar:

So for this analysis, first we had to identify all the wells. All operational wells that are located within 3,200 feet of a home school church, hospital or other type of public site sensitively separate. And we found that over, just over 20% of California’s operational wells are within that proposed setback zone. And the largest portion of those wells are actually idle wells, wells that aren’t producing oil right now. These are not showing the wells that are the ones that are outside the orange being in the zone. So we also looked at new drilling that’s happening, basically happening in the state. We looked at new drilling in 2020 and 2021. And we found that only 11% of new wells are getting drilled within a setback zone which is a small percentage than the existing wells.

Kyle Ferrar:

And then we also looked at permits, these are permits that are issued by CalGEM to drill new wells or to rework existing wells. And we find that for areas within the setback zone, the regions data in the setback zone are just not as productive as the areas within the large oil fields. Martha showed some great pictures of the oil fields in LA County similar have very high density of oil and gas wells. While the majority of wells that have been permitted are being permitted within that zone for a reason, because that’s where the majority of resources are located. What we find is that for the most part, the permits that are being issued near homes and in the setback zone are mostly reworks. These are just to keep existing oil and gas wells operating. So they don’t have to pay the money to shut them down, to plug and remediate them.

Kyle Ferrar:

So yeah, oil came first in California. In some communities, that’s true but there’s a reason why that drilling has remained in those fields. And there’s no reason for operators to expand out into communities because the reserves just aren’t really there, and that’s what this analysis shows. So take, for example, Exxon it, the first quarter of 2022, it reported record highest profit for the second quarter in a row. But Exxon continues to operate a nearly of nearly 1,200 idle and marginally producing wells near homes in California and they be, and so in fact, 90% of the operational wells within the 3,200 foot setback zone statewide are marginally producing. If they produce at least 10 barrels a day. So, it just doesn’t make any sense to have them. So beyond the oil extractions

Kyle Ferrar:

Beyond the setback zone, we’ve also been monitoring oil on gas permitting in the state. And we’ve been doing that with our website, newsandwellwatch.com. And we have a new report that’s been released this week. It details the first quarter of 2022 and talks about those figures and also talks a bit about the drastic slowdown that’s occurred over the course of the last five or so months. So for the last quarter of 2021 and into 2022, there really were not any drilling permits issued. And this trend changed in March of this year, CalGEM issued 42 new drilling permits for extraction and cancel or recovery wells like steam flooded and water injection of wells and here they are.

Kyle Ferrar:

And it’s interesting, the shifting policy really aligns closely with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent call by industry for new drilling permits. They do this under the guise of energy independence, it’s really a common tactic that’s employed by the oil and gas industry, time and time again. They usually really use any market instability to their advantage. And these industry calls for new permits are misleading for two reasons. Go back the slide, sorry about that.

Kyle Ferrar:

First number one, our analysis show that the oil and gas industry has plenty of existing permits that have not yet been drilled. So we put together called a reference request for that data and found that nearly 2,700 new drone permits have been approved since the beginning of 2020, but 1,700 of them currently remain un-drilled. So that’s 63% permits over the course of the last two years, remain untouched. So there’s no need for the industry to have new permits issued. They’re just sitting and just trying to stack as many as they can. And they’re really is going to take its toll in the future if these permits are issued.

Kyle Ferrar:

So the last topic I want to talk about with a little time left is the California Air Resources Boards, California Oil and Gas, the cargo rule. This is the only regulation for emissions from the small operators of oil and gas wells that you see. And it regulates methane emissions, which is a greenhouse gas. But if you’re regulating methane, you’re also regulating the cocktail of VOCs, volatile organic compounds that include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These are toxic and carcinogenic VOCs like vertex chemicals. So by regulating methane, they’re also regulating this cocktail of toxins as well. Unfortunately there’s some major loopholes in this world that make it gutless. So I’m going to talk about three of those real quick.

Kyle Ferrar:

So I’m going to use Arvin, the City of Arvin as an example. Martha discussed Arvin, Arvin was the first city in California to institute a setback rule and it really is leading away. Unfortunately they have a number of existing or gas wells within the City of Lennox. You can see them in yellow gear and then the Oren sites are sites where I have been in the field and I’ve used a camera that films, it’s called optical gas imaging camera, special infrared camera. It’s also referred to as a FLIR camera, the samples visually show emissions from oil and gas sites. So I’m going use a couple examples from around Arvin to show how the loopholes allow these sites to have uncontrolled emissions of VOCs and other chemicals. So first, the first loophole is for, is an exemption for a small producer well sites that doesn’t require them to have vapor control systems.

Kyle Ferrar:

So vapor control system would collect all of these emissions from all the infrastructure equipment such as tanks and wash tanks and compressors and that nature. And take it to a facility where it can either be processed for plastics or maybe they flare it off but it’s not being released as hydrocarbons VOCs in communities. So all of the sites on the map here are qualified for exemption. The exemption is any site that produces on average, less than 50 barrels of oil per day, 50 barrels is twice the volume of the can standing next to this is, very large quality oil and all of this has to get underneath that.

Kyle Ferrar:

So here is an example of the second loophole with vacuums. This is venting machines that are vacuums, these are vacuums that are on oil tanks that open up when the volume inside the tank becomes too high and it allows for tanks to emit VOCs on control that they included. So I’m going to start through this with you. So, what you see here are the emissions of VOCs being released from the tank and unfortunately these tanks are designed to work like this. And that’s the problem because they’re designed, they are a design piece of infrastructure that are meant to allow these types of emissions. That design is not covered by the emissions regulations.

Kyle Ferrar:

So this site is operating and has been operating for decades within 30 feet of a play ground and is surrounded by an apartment complex. And we’ve been filming the site annually for a very long time. So emissions, concentrations of methane and VOCs coming from this site are high enough. This site would be shut down if the emissions weren’t coming from this specific piece of equipment.

Speaker 4:

Sorry, quick question. Can you see that in real time, like in the daytime or you can’t see it-

Kyle Ferrar:

So you cannot see this.

Speaker 4:

Yeah.

Kyle Ferrar:

With the camera, you can.

Speaker 4:

Okay. But with, you can’t see.

Kyle Ferrar:

No.

Speaker 4:

Oh okay.

Kyle Ferrar:

If you were looking at this, we wouldn’t see anything coming out.

Speaker 4:

That’s good. Okay.

Kyle Ferrar:

All right. And this just keeps going. This has been happening for a long time, I’ll take you to the next slide. Don’t go too far over time. This is the third example of a loophole. The issue here is if a site passes inspections where the inspector only identifies very small emissions or doesn’t see emissions. The operator is allowed to discontinue inspections in the future. So this site, I don’t know if you saw the beginning, there was a different colored panel on the front. The first time I visited it, it was leaking from a massive shotgun blast to the side of that tank. It had been before, sometimes it’s very rusty. That had to be fixed.

Kyle Ferrar:

And replay it, see it right there. Replaced but the operator did not fix any of the rivet wells at the top of the tank. So that’s what I’m showing here, it’s leaking. These things are leaking from all of those rivets because this infrastructure is very old, but like I said, inspection timeframes can be reduced or entirely eliminated if the operator finds no leaks. So this provides a disincentive for operators to find leaks. And of course, these are self inspections of these sites. So if anything, over component should receive greater stream but under the current framework, maybe not. And then, my last example is a site across from the elementary school, [Thirdway 00:34:59] Academy and I took this video.

Kyle Ferrar:

This site was not a violation because the uncontrolled emissions are coming from a venting PV hatch. And as you can see at the end of the video directly down the limit, a few of the elementary students are having recess. So what we do, I’m putting this slide on call to action because there’s a formal comment period opening up with the new current climate change scoping plan. And that we released mid-may and everyone will have the opportunity to comment on it. As well, there’s also Cal staff will be presenting on their public health and economic modeling results next week. And they’re expected to be grossly limited and efficient representation of EJ impacts at the community level. So there’ll be a public comment opportunity at that workshop as well. Thank you for allowing me the time to present. Yeah.

Speaker 5:

What is the name of the workshop, you said a new workshop?

Kyle Ferrar:

It is the Public Health and Economic Modeling Workshop. And yeah, so that’s all I got. Thank you so much for everything.

Speaker 6:

So we’ll take questions. You can identify who the question is and I’ll try to keep the queue, right here and then back there.

Speaker 7:

I think-

Speaker 6:

And then back to the front. No, you first.

Speaker 7:

Okay. I had a question for Monica. When you were talking about the timeline for the oil wells to when they get that threshold, of including their costs when did you say? How long is that timeframe again?

Monica Embrey:

Great question. So far, we haven’t had enough studies yet to do this. And so we’re really excited that both LA City and LA County are coming together to produce their studies. To be able to stand up in court, each municipality needs to commit and complete their own amortization study. The city of Culver City is also an example we could highlight, where the community came together to call on the city council to phase-out the oil wells that are within the Culver City portion of the Inglewood Oil Field, which is the largest urban oil field in the country, about 700 oil wells in the area of Baldwin Hills, like Lever Park. And so the Culver City portion has 41 oil wells. They commissioned a report to develop that amortization timetable the way they did that was they looked at two different ways of doing it.

Monica Embrey:

So first they looked at, since the wells were drilled and how much cost had been in there. And then the second way they looked at it is since the current oil operator purchased those wells. And under both of those timelines, one was five years and then one was six years and both of those expired and finished last year. And so the Culver City is currently in the process and has required that their oil operator develop the exact timeline with which they need to close and clean up those wells. They’ve said not just to end drilling, but also to ensure they’re properly plugged and abandoned. All the equipment is removed and the site is fully remediated back to its original site. No longer than five years, from that council vote.

Monica Embrey:

And so they’re calling for the full site remediation. So no more drilling, put cement down the hole, remove all your equipment, clean up the land and make sure that none of that oily soil is still around all has to happen within five years of that city council vote. And we’re calling for a very similar timeline for LA City and LA County. And can anticipate given the average age of the wells, the average depth of the wells, all those factors that we would expect a similar timeline. So we’re hoping for a five phase-out and full cleanup. Not just phase-out, phase-out and full cleanup within five years

Speaker 6:

Back there, here and then over there, and over there.

Tony Vanell:

Thanks my name’s Tony Vanell. I’m sorry, I came late to the session. So my comment was for Kyle. Why would they issues of permits for those and then 60% of them go unused? That was my first question. And the second was, why would your call to action Cal, I mean, still in plan marketing to us more than I can, seems that they’re massive for any of those topics. CalGEM has a setback regulation right now. So just briefly I was just curious about why of CalGEM would be the target of action?

Kyle Ferrar:

That’s a great question. So we see on a national level that oil and gas operators are pushing for more permits, although they could drill for the next 20 years and not require a new permit on federal land, state lands. So, this is really an intention for the future to make us reliant on oil and gas as much as possible. And the same thing in California, it’s unnecessary to issue these permits, but it gives them the flexibility to be able to drill far into the future. We see that a permit is good for two years plus a year extension without any paperwork necessary. And another two years on top of that with some paperwork, but we see cases where permits are reissued that were not drilled 10 years ago with very little overview of the sites because they received the initial permit. So the intention is to stack them up as high as possible. And you’re absolutely right. So we have a big setback proposal right now. And do you want to talk a little bit about that? Yeah.

Monica Embrey:

Yeah, so I think there’s many venues where we can do calls to action and CalGEM is absolutely one. Though I think the curve scoping plan, just to name, it’s the first time it’s ever going to include oil and gas extraction. So even though it’s a cluster of a regulatory process, I think it is an important venue for us to engage in on the supply side, on the oil and gas pieces to make sure that they get this right because it’s the first time the state is actually looking at the phase-out timeline. You want to add more on that then.

Kyle Ferrar:

Yeah, absolutely. And because the only regulation that exists on the books is through Cal right now for these existing sites. Now, if the setback, the scope of the setback can include existing well sites and shut them down. Rather than allow an amortization process to phase these oil and gas wells out or let them phase themselves out. That would take care of this issue as well and reduce these emissions from community sites.

Monica Embrey:

And actually I’m going to back the slides. You’re giving a softball you’re going to be later, but I’ll do it now which is-

Martha Dina Argüello:

And as far as the scoping plan I think both end and frankly, given the lack of listening that happens at par in terms with the EJ, I think more voices are needed. And so, I think it’s both end.

Monica Embrey:

Completely agree. And I think, there’s an entire alliance of organizations that Climate Center, FracTracker or STAND LA, PSR-LA and Sierra Club are all part of to address our statewide oil and gas extraction. And we’re called the Last Chance Alliance, get to see some friends in the room here as well. And our demands are threefold, stop issuing all new permits. Drop, phase-out existing production and start with the rolling out of setbacks. Protect our most vulnerable communities first.

Monica Embrey:

So stop, drop and roll are our three by positive demands and the public health and safety role that Culver is doing. And governor and help support the national secretary with Culver oversees CalGEM through oversee through the time is really about protecting residents in communities. And so, CalGEM is just issued their draft rule to call for 3,200 foot setback. And we need a make sure that doesn’t get drilled down, but the issue with the rules, it only applies to new permits. And as you saw from Kyle’s presentation, there are far too many oil wells within that are existing and get left behind this rule.

Monica Embrey:

So we have been calling on Governor Newsom to strengthen that and make sure that existing wells, not just new wells are part of our setback phase-out. And as we have proven Culver City, LA City and LA County, you can regulate and phase-out existing wells. You just have to develop an amortization study to figure out that timeline.

Monica Embrey:

And so we’re really calling the governor to not claim that takings are too scary and that we won’t stand up to the big oil industry right now, because of that and instead really develop that. And so on the no new permit side, because quite for the record, this is just not acceptable. This is not okay for oil and gas wells to be just right next to our homes and schools. Sierra Club, does have divisions, multiple divisions. You can go to sc.org/caoil and actually slip in your comment to the state about not having any new permits. So I’ll leave that up, that’s the link for folks that want to take action right now.

Speaker 6:

Okay. Let’s see if I remember the queue, that was you here and then you in the white jacket and then it wasn’t recognized and then Barb.

Michael Chiacos:

Michael Chiacos with Community Environmental Council and I live and work in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties where there’s a lot of oil drilling as well. And I was wondering if anyone could comment on using oil taxes as a strategy to drive out oil production. And I don’t know if this is something statewide that has been discussed or could happen at a city or county. But is it legally defensible or how feasible would it be to say, have a tax say it’s a thousand dollars for oil well and $10 per barrel oil produced. And then each year have that increased by another 1,000 and or $5. And basically drive oil production out by taxing it as well as in recoup that cost and dedicate it towards a Just Transition, capping oil wells and climate programs.

Monica Embrey:

I’ll start and if anyone else wants to add. So complicated, so I think for two reasons. One, very similar to the conversation we were having this morning on capping trade, where if you make the economic resource to address this issue dependent on the thing that you’re trying to get rid of, that’s the negative feedback loop we don’t actually want. Right? And so if we’re dependent on the oil and gas industry’s dollars to fund the Just Transition, to fund that phase-out, we’re not going to be able to actually secure enough resources. And so, as opposed to a tax approach, we much prefer our command knew and response like a regulation that says this is not allowed. And actually, the current law is very clear. The oil industry must pay to clean up their oil wells. And the real problem is that we’re actually just not holding them accountable to do that.

Monica Embrey:

The second reason, at Sierra Club we don’t love the policy itself. So we don’t think it’s the best policy mechanism, but the second reason is the politics. In order to pass attacks, you need two thirds of voters. And instead of spending our so many fights to have both the state legislature at local cities and counties. The amount of political campaigning it would take to successfully pass that we just don’t feel like is the best strategic use of our resources. And so, we actually have LA City reporting back maybe this week, maybe next week on a motion to study the feasibility of looking at an oil severance tax or a barrel tax.

Monica Embrey:

And we requested they add in not only that tax, but other mechanisms to secure resources. Fines, fees, we don’t do leverage nearly enough of those on the industry for violating current laws. And so if we want to recoup more resources from the oil industry, they could be fined and feed to recoup a lot more money than we’re currently holding accountable to. Especially, given the way that the oil industry would frame a tax as hurting folks at the pump and knowing just how much oil prices right now are hurting so many people. It doesn’t seem like the realistic way that we would advance to move forward with it and with other issues.

Martha Dina Argüello:

Yeah. I think we, as a general principal should stop allowing the industry to externalize its cost. So things like divestment, figuring out how much of our state budget does go to oil industry to externalize its cost and pull those. I think we have lots of revenues if we were to start pulling those so that we actually stop supporting an industry that on its own is not sustainable. So okay. back where-

Kyle Ferrar:

Yeah. One more thing to add.

Martha Dina Argüello:

Okay.

Kyle Ferrar:

Yeah. As an example of how badly it can go, when you start looking at a severance tax, you can look at Pennsylvania and their Act 13. So it began as a pretty simple severance tax but then the governor used it as a way to withhold educational funding at the county level for any county or municipality that decided that they were going to zone fracking out of their municipality, so.

Speaker 6:

Yes.

Adam Paul:

Thank you so much. This is very informative. My name is Adam Paul, I’m with Climate Change in California. I just wanted to, when you get a sense to, it seems like LA County, you’re doing amazing work around this issue. I’m curious around, have you heard similar issues in Santa Barbara or actually in Central Valley or incurred having these types of problems or these type of global actions?

Martha Dina Argüello:

No, I’d be happy to [inaudible 00:48:54].

Monica Embrey:

So yes. Good news is yes. So on our Central Coast, our partners it’s Ventura, right? I’m having a moment of triple remember here.

Adam Paul:

Absolutely.

Monica Embrey:

So appreciate this question Adam. So Ventura County, their county board of supervisors passed setbacks, little while a year and a half ago, or so. That included a 1,500 foot setback from homes and 2,500 foot setback from schools. And so really thinking about these distances, again, those apply to new wells but we fully support that. And if you can imagine the oil and gas industry is fighting pretty hard against that. They did that part of their larger county vote. I will name because I feel amiss not to name. That county that has three quarters of our oil drilling, Kern county has been moving in the opposite direction.

Monica Embrey:

And so really proud to have the center on waste poverty environment, which would’ve been Quan, if he was sitting here. And Sierra Club and others together actually having filed a lawsuit against the county for their efforts to streamline and rubber stamp, all oil permitting and have no local review at which the county board of supervisors passed and we have successfully sued over. And so, I think there’s many instances where different local governments aren’t moving fast enough. And that is part of why it’s not enough just for LA and the Central Coast to get this right, in order to protect the people on the front line in the Central Valley, the state must act. And we really do need Governor Newsom and all of the regulatory agencies to address oil drilling as a statewide matter.

Adam Paul:

Thank you.

Kyle Ferrar:

Yeah, and there’s another great, very local actions that have happened like Arvin, for example. Did you know about Arvin Martha?

Martha Dina Argüello:

Well, I mean, on and off to LA we worked with the folks in Arvin, but it was really the Center for Race, Poverty and Environment Communities for better Arvin. I remember it organized and we were telling the LA City Council, “Arvin beat you guys, are you kidding them?” so the strategy was always to have local battle global momentum for the statewide effort and that’s what we’ve been working on for close to 10 years. But the Central Valley does really need your support because their air district, all the regulatory agencies, they are firmly convinced that their economy will not thrive without oil. And I think that, that is a real challenge for us to show them that their economy can thrive without oil.

Speaker 6:

Okay. So back here and then I think it was Barb and then we’ll get there. And we’ll try, maybe take a few so we can, I don’t know how much more time we have. Go ahead.

Bernice:

I’m Bernice from 250 Area. And what about funding, the closure of the different wells? What is the political feasibility of something like a closure because all of these extracted means these are great at sweeping in and then changing their organizational structure to claim bankruptcy?

Kyle Ferrar:

Yeah, that’s a great question. It also leads in, ties in with the fees for having an oil well that just sits and exists. An idle well for example, there’s requirements for idle well management plans. And this is a management plan that an operator would agree with. It’s an agreement between an operator and CalGEM, who is our main regulator, to come up with a plan to shut down oil and gas wells. Right? So in addition to that, there are bonding requirements for new wells.

Kyle Ferrar:

The problem is large operators are able to get a blanket bonds and pay just a lump sum of money that doesn’t come close to covering what it actually would cost to plug in properly abandon and remediate these sites. But yeah, so there was a bill that was passed focused on these idle wells. And some companies at California Resources Corporation, the largest producer in California has opted to just pay fine instead of actually coming up with a plan to close their wells. So yeah, there was either a fine, or there’s coming with a plan to start shutting them down. So operators have gone different ways depending on where their finances are.

Monica Embrey:

I think that’s right. I think the other thing I would add is that we think there’s incredible opportunity for CalGEM to actually really start leveraging much more significant fines. And so the fines right now are pennies on the costs. And so yeah, if you’re CRC, you’re California Resources Corporation. One of the largest operators here in California, you have over a billion. That is a billion with a B, amount of cleanup costs associated with your oil wells and you are planning on, and hoping to be able to largely walk away from it because for decades our state regulators have not required oil companies to clean up their wells.

Monica Embrey:

There are legacy wells in the neighborhood where my cousin grew up and where I currently live, they’re a 100 years old and they haven’t been being cleaned up. And so those super old wells do fall, unfortunately to us and the state to do the clean up of. Those still don’t actually come from tax dollars. So I want to clarify. There’s two types of not active oil wells, there’s orphan and idle. And I’ll pull up another slide to show those where they’re at in the numbers again.

Monica Embrey:

But again, so those orphan wells are one that don’t have a company that’s currently responsible. Tax payers actually don’t pay for that cleanup cost. The industry has to pay into multiple funds that then the state uses those industry run dollars to clean up. Part of the problem is the industry likes to keep those costs that they put into those funds very small. But the over the welding majority of wells that are not active, that are idle, have operators who are currently responsible for cleaning them up.

Monica Embrey:

And so it is our job to make the state, make those operators clean them up now so that they don’t file for bankruptcy and walk away from their cleanup and then make it rely on communities to clean up. Because not all of us are Beverly Hills and I would much rather our tax dollars go to our schools and our hospitals, and community needs. And not to bail out a billion in dollar industry who’s choosing to walk away from their cleanup responsibilities. And so, the overwhelming majority of idle wells currently have an oil company who’s responsible for cleaning it up and we need our regulators just to make them do what is currently on the books to do.

Speaker 6:

On the honor system. There was someone over here that had question. That there and then Barb and then, yes.

Janina:

Yes. Yes. Thank you. Can you hear me?

Kyle Ferrar:

Yes.

Janina:

First, I want to say thank you everybody up there. Thank you, Monica. I know this is really hard work and I’m Janina from Long Beach where I serve on the council and we have fought really hard to be able to follow in the footsteps of your leadership. And the conversation that came up on what, what are other cities doing. On the 22nd of this month Long Beach is going to have their climate committee led by their Councilwoman, and this is going to be the topic. But we’ve got challenges where we don’t have a strong climate coalition that is sending in thousands of emails or thousands of names.

Janina:

And so, I just want to employ and say, thank you again because I know the Sierra Club’s giving us one of their national organizers to help do this work. But we’ve got an energy director that comes from 25 years of being a CEO for an oil company. And so while council is part-time in doing this work and we have not a lot of people on the ground, we’re really looking at statewide leveraging opportunities to be able to make the case for this. And they continue to tell us that we’re going to be the ones that have to foot the bill. And so I really just wanted to say how much I appreciate you being really clear on what the law is, so. I know we’re short on time, Sorry.

Speaker 6:

Yep. We’re really out of time. So we’re at 2:29. So I’m sorry, I’m getting the notion that-

Martha Dina Argüello:

One more question, Barb.

Barb:

Yeah. Quick comment in that question regarding Just Transition, which is a phrase that’s used a lot. I’m with the nurses, we’re from Health and Justice, and work with nurses in Kern County. And one of the things that they’re concerned about is as we diminish the oil industry existing now is that the tax are used that they are going diminish significantly. And so their concerns about health nurses is that public health services are then going to diminish, they’re going to lose their jobs.

Barb:

And this is a real fear that they have and many of them, their partners work in Halliburton and other oil industry companies in the area. And so, when we think about how we frame the Just Transition, it’s not just for workers and training community members to cleaning plant workers, but it is the general revenue and really figuring out how we’re going to deal with that, so that the zero-sum game doesn’t take none of those services and health services and other things. And my question is, if we’re going to be taking all this oily soil that we’re cleaning up, I want to know in whose backyard and whose going to do the cleaning up?

Martha Dina Argüello:

Kettleman City. Actually, this is one of my, as I said earlier, I’ve done a lot of work in toxics. And the agency that would be responsible is Department of Toxic Substance TSCA. And they have a horrible track record. We’ve actually just, I’m so excited with my public health got a grant from Johnson, but we’re actually look working with Biomimicry Institute and indigenous communities around traditional cleanup practices and bioremediation. The communities that we work with and Allen CO they don’t want their dirty soil going to another environmental justice community.

Martha Dina Argüello:

So I don’t think we have real solutions yet for the scale of the cleanup. So we’ve got to, as usual environmental justice communities have to figure out how to bring the science that we need to our communities versus the science somebody thinks we need. So this project, we’re working with scientists, we’re working with biomimicry experts and others. Hopefully we’ll have a pilot that we could do at Allen CO since that one is going to be shut down. But we’re very worried about that because we don’t do good with storage. Right? We don’t do good with watch dogging, anything as a state.

Monica Embrey:

Barb, we’re getting a lot of fun guy.

Barb:

That’s a lot fun guy.

Speaker 5:

A lot of fun guy.

Martha Dina Argüello:

Watching this.

Barb:

I was literally thinking that-

Martha Dina Argüello:

[crosstalk 00:59:58] Spinach.

Barb:

I’m producing it in large scale.

Martha Dina Argüello:

Large scale, one night. Thank you.

Monica Embrey:

Thank you all.