Surfer//Therapist/Reluctant Environmentalist
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Hermosa-oil

If you live in the South Bay of Los Angeles, you have probably seen the banners, hats, and stickers circulating around the beach communities and emanating out of Hermosa Beach. You may be wondering what exactly is Keep Hermosa Hermosa (KHH) is. Stop Hermosa Beach Oil-KHH is a growing coalition of residents made up of surfers, paddlers, watermen, artists, professionals, and locals coming together over a defining issue that will shape the makeup and character of the South Bay for generations to come.

The issue (that tentatively will be decided in a ballot measure in November 2014) is whether to lift the current ban on drilling in Hermosa Beach and drill for oil and gas under the City of Hermosa and under the Santa Monica Bay. It is KHH’s belief that lifting this ban and drilling for oil is a poor and shortsighted solution. This proposition is motivated by financial greed and will result in long term effects that will compromise the health and safety of our ocean, our surf breaks, and the well being of every single member of our community.

Currently, a company called E&B Natural Resources (an oil and gas company) is proposing horizontal/directional drilling for oil and natural gas. The proposed plan is to drill underneath Hermosa Beach and out under the Santa Monica Bay (basically in all directions), and construct an oil and gas processing facility at 6th Street and Valley Drive in Hermosa Beach. On this mere 1.3-acre plot in the middle of a residential neighborhood, next to parks, a day care, and the Green Belt, thirty wells and four injection wells will be drilled to process 8,000 barrels of oil and 2.5 million cubic feet of natural gas every day.

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The wells will be drilled out under the Santa Monica bay and probe thousands of feet under the ocean, breaking up soft sand shale and pulling out oil and natural gas. There is a danger of subsidence (the sinking of the sea floor) and sinkholes (what the oil and gas business has elegantly renamed “surface expressions”) that could directly impact all of Hermosa and every surf break and wave from PV to Porto to Malibu. Subsidence occurred at the Redondo Breakwater, sinking it by two feet as a result of oil extraction, affecting the break dramatically.

In the event of an accident, hydrocarbons and toxic drilling muds or NORMS (naturally occurring radioactive materials; Radon, Uranium, Boron, Hydrogen Sulfide, Methane, etc.) could potentially seep up through the natural fissures of the earth, poisoning the ocean and threatening its fragile ecosystem. Any paddler, fisherman, diver or boater can speak to the naturally occurring oil sheen out by the R10 buoy. What do you think will happen when millions of gallons of an unknown mixture (the oil company is not required to tell us what chemicals they will use) is pumped into the ground at great pressure to extract the natural gas and oil under the ocean floor?

There is also a risk of the thousand or so “retired” wells in Redondo, Hermosa and Manhattan (many under homes, schools and parks) being compromised and gas leaks occurring such as the methane gas incident that occurred in Hawthorne this September that evacuated a neighborhood for weeks.

Oil and gas drilling also produces trimethylbenzenes, xylenes, and aliphatic hydrocarbons, all of which greatly increase the risk of cancer, respiratory and neurological disorders and have also been linked to infertility, ADHD, autism, diabetes and thyroid disorders. Currently the risk of any type of accident, environmental disaster or prolonged exposure to carcinogens due to drilling in the Santa Monica and South Bay is zero, and KHH, with your help, plans to keep it that way.

KHH is carrying on a long tradition of protecting Hermosa as drilling for oil has been rejected by every generation of Hermosans dating back to 1929 when Gus O’Connor, a Harvard-educated attorney, successfully began a campaign to ban oil and gas drilling in Hermosa Beach.

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Voters approved that drilling ban in 1932, confirmed it in 1958, and placed our current ban in 1994. Faced with this dilemma once again, the onus of the decision lies in the hands of Hermosa Beach voters. Yet this decision directly affects all of the Santa Monica Bay and puts our ocean directly at risk.

Recently, The Bay has been cared for and diligently protected and restored by the community and organizations like Surfrider, Heal The Bay and The Sierra Club (all of which support and endorse KHH). An environmental accident knows no boundaries and there are currently scant resources to mitigate such an event; a methane gas leak, toxic seepage or a spill would not stop at the borders of Hermosa on land or sea. An environmental accident could evacuate neighborhoods, decimate the kelp beds of PV, kill sea life in King Harbor, pool up toxic sludge at Rat Beach, and destroy the surf breaks at 16th Street, Bruce’s, El Porto, the Manhattan, Venice and Santa Monica Piers and be in Malibu in hours. Is this the legacy that we hope to leave for future generations?

If this goes down in Hermosa, don’t think an oil company won’t be coming for your town next, claiming it’s safe and effective with the latest technology… until something goes wrong. Deepwater Horizon was deemed safe, so was Valdez (and so many others that you have never even heard of). Oil drilling accidents and spills have been closing beaches and killing sea life from the Gulf to Australia, Mexico, Korea, Philippines, Spain…the list goes on and on. Why would we want to even have a chance of being added to an infamous list of growing environmental disasters?

KHH is asking any and all who enjoy the Santa Monica Bay to join us, get involved and become informed by visiting our website, keephermosahermosa.com. At KHH, we believe the facts speak for themselves. Hermosans, this November in Hermosa Beach there are three seats up for City Counsel. The election is pivotal with candidates both for and against oil, so get out and vote!

KHH is not an anti-oil organization. We are, however, a pro-Hermosa movement dedicated to the pursuit of beauty and sustainability in all things South Bay. Hermosa and the South Bay are growing and evolving on multiple fronts and it is up to our community to get involved in the shaping of our future.

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