USC Oil Resistance

By:  Dale Solomon

Over the course of the last year, prices of crude oil have dropped dramatically, causing an upheaval in the fossil fuel industry. Expensive projects that are not already approved and underway are being abandoned. The industry points to dropping prices of crude as the reason, but we know that the persistent resistance of the people living next fossil fuel projects deserves the credit. Were it not for their efforts, many of these projects would have been underway for some time now.

Recently, the city of Carson won a major victory when a project, that would have seen roughly 200 new wells drilled amidst urban neighborhoods, was cancelled. This is only the largest of the cancelled projects in Los Angeles County. Here is a brief look at another recent victory, told by a USC student.

West Adams Resistance

My name is Dale Solomon and I am a Junior at the University of Southern California. I joined the Environmental Affairs Organization (EAO) a little over a year ago and quickly became interested in their Anti-Acidization campaign when I learned that the highly unregulated fossil fuel industry was conducting business all over the city of Los Angeles.

The closest drill site, owned by Freeport McMoRan Oil & Gas (FMOG), is 3 blocks from campus and just one block from my apartment. Because this particular drilling monstrosity is literally an arm’s length from some homes, it did not take long for community members to feel like they were being treated like guinea pigs in FMOG’s acidization experiment. Richard Parks was one of these concerned community members who, as a USC faculty member and local resident, felt something needed to be done. He reached out to us last Spring and we have been working together ever since.

The relationship that we have maintained with community members has been incredibly valuable for generating connections. Through Richard, we have gained access to an entire network of community members who are each working on their own subcommittees such as Media Relations, Logistics and Legality. I have had a tremendously rewarding experience by being part of this network and by helping to foster new connections.

Our extensive community outreach has also benefitted us with quick updates on FMOG’s operation. One of the biggest complaints that community members have is that FMOG operates in secrecy and there is no regulatory body watching over them; so it is often very difficult to find out when they are doing acid jobs and when they are applying for well expansion permits.

On November 25, 2014 FMOG went before a city zoning administrator to apply for permits to re-drill two existing wells and drill a new well. Richard Parks was able to inform us of this hearing with enough time to rally our members, organize transportation and write speeches. Over a hundred people showed up to what was expected to be a routine hearing application. Our passionate opposition and overwhelming numbers caused the decision to be delayed to January 5th and then January 24th. In that time FMOG withdrew their permit application.

We were able to successfully stop FMOG from expanding the scope of their operation, and while their daily operations continue, it is clear that we won the battle. Community outreach and persistent networking is a proven system. We will continue to implement this powerful solidarity until the day FMOG is out of our community!

USC’s Environmental Affairs Organization has partnered its Anti-Acidization campaign with the Redeemer Community Partnership, who has successfully led a struggle to prevent the approval of a project proposed by Freeport Mcmoran Oil & Gas in the West Adams Neighborhood of south Los Angeles.

Posted in California Student Sustainability Coalition Magazine, CSSC News, Featured News and tagged , , .