CD5 Coalition Hit Piece Analysis #7: Creed Cheviot Oil Field Safety Piece (updated)

http://ethics.lacity.org/PDF/disclosure/Comm/Cmp/KORETZ%20IS%20_ASLEEP%20AT%20THE%20WHEEL_%20ON%20CHEVIOT%20OIL%20FIELD%20SAFETY%2C%20SAYS%20CREED.pdf

The Creed piece states:

We have located the following references:

Koretz made a motion on November 27, 2013 which specifically related to oil and gas production safety.  The motion can be found HERE.  Part of the motion reads:

“I THEREFORE MOVE that the Council instruct the Department of Transportation, in cooperation with the Los Angeles Fire Department and the Department of Public Works, to report on the November 24,2013 hazardous materials spill at 5866 Blackwelder Street and that such report include the following: the cause of the event; any possible links to fracking activities, details and risk associated with brine water spills; first responder training that is required by the City; the location of oil pipelines in the City and the identification of any pipelines that contain possible hazardous materials; the City’s pipeline inspection requirements; and the costs to the City to respond to this accidental release of hazardous materials.”

Koretz co-sponsored the motion to hire an oil and gas expert to …” ensure that oil and gas production in the city is conducted in the safest manner possible.”

From KPCC: http://www.scpr.org/news/2016/02/17/57655/la-to-hire-oil-and-gas-expert-to-help-diffuse-cont/

Quoting:

“Any expert the city hires is expected be knowledgeable about not just the oil and gas operations, but also their impacts on public health.

“We’re not just looking for some industry hack,” Councilman Paul Koretz said.

The motion resulted in the hiring of a oil & gas administrator about which Mayor Garcetti stated:

“Nothing is more important to me than the health and safety of everyone who lives, works, and plays in Los Angeles — and they deserve the peace of mind of having a dedicated expert focused on the challenges raised by the drilling and storage of fossil fuels,” said Mayor Garcetti. “Uduak-Joe Ntuk has the skills and background to work with our residents, industry, and regulators — to help manage oil and gas activities in our neighborhoods, and play a role in steering L.A. toward a cleaner, more sustainable future.”

Conclusion

Based on the above, the Creed piece is inaccurate. Specifically:

  1. The recent call for additional study was not Koretz’ “sole action to date” on well safety.
  2. The motion to hire an oil and gas administrator to “ensure that oil and gas production in the city is conducted in the safest manner possible” resulted in the hiring of the person responsible for this specific matter.

Notes:

  1. The Creed campaign has objected to the inclusion of fracking/injection in this review, stating that the coalition missed the point and that the issue was the installation of the flare and lack of oversight, not “fracking.”  We disagree.  The Creed piece explicitly states that “Koretz is asleep at the wheel on Cheviot Oil Field Safety.”  This blanket statement includes all safety-related issues along with oversight and permitting.  The remainder of the piece clearly deals with CD5-wide and city-wide issues.
  2. The piece also cites “City chronic dysfunction.”  The issue of oil wells is a complicated one.  The original law was written in 1945 and has been lightly modified since then.  When an oil operator wishes to add equipment, they first go to a state agency, then to the city – or they are supposed to.  Since the late 1990’s some well operators may not have sought approvals from the city.  Normally, the city would catch such new equipment during annual inspections.  But, apparently inspections have not been happening for decades.  In addition, conditions of approval for wells could also be decades old and those conditions have not been enforced for decades.
  3. This decision denied approval for a flare elsewhere in the city in June, 2016.
  4. The original 1945 code is HERE.
  5. LAMC 13.01 (the current code) can be found HERE.
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