By Mark Friedman | June 10, 2022
Residents and allies from across Los Angeles joined a press conference and protest on June 1 in Wilmington to demand the City of Los Angeles take action against oil operator Warren Resources (Warren Inc.), which has a pattern of illegal oil drilling activities that have harmed community health and safety.
The action was sponsored by Communities for a Better Environment, Standing Together Against Neighborhood Drilling and U.S. Rep. Nanette Barragán who joined them to expose Warren Inc.’s violation of local permitting regulations occurring since 2018. This includes failing to conduct comprehensive environmental reviews and misrepresenting information in at least 19 permit applications to the state’s oil and gas regulatory agency, California’s Geologic Energy Management Division. Residents approached CBE in 2006 to take a stand against neighborhood oil drilling.
CBE attorney Allison Hahm said of Warren Inc., “They are dodging environmental guidelines, using outdated permits and since 2015 has fast-tracked new oil well development. The state agency, CalGEM, has been complicit in allowing big oil to reap enormous profits. Environmental justice is possible and we call for the phasing out of oil drilling and call on them to shut Warren down.”
Stand LA Coalition leader, Rev. Louis Chase, said, “We need drill sites closed throughout LA. No amount of regulation will stop them. Warren has shown blatant disregard for the health of Wilmington residents, working hand-in-hand with the state agency. This is a systemic problem. It is the oil companies’ pattern of negligence and the only thing that matters is money. There are no restrictions on big oil finding its way around or through regulations. Stand LA calls on the city to shut this facility down and prevent drilling where we live.”
Twenty-five-year Wilmington resident, Dulce Altamirano, addressed the crowd in Spanish, exclaiming that “Warren does not respect our health and life. We suffer from asthma and other respiratory diseases. I want a normal life for my children and relatives. The company is only thinking about filling their pockets with money and cares nothing about us.”
Young people, the most severely impacted victims of the toxic fumes and particulates, were represented by a 20-year-old college student who grew up in Wilmington, Nizgui Gomez. “As kids, we grew up smelling the refineries’ fumes not knowing what it was doing to our health. The real health impacts have been asthma, birth defects and cancer. There are laws in place but still there is no justice. They think they are above the law, illegally drilling since 2018. Too many of the so-called political leaders backed Warren.” The crowd chanted back, “Warren stop drilling you are killing us.”
“I nod my head in disbelief. Why we need to do this again. This is injustice. The system is broken. Big oil is lying about everything. We need immediate action,” said Rep. Barragán. “The oil industry is not above the law. They will not take advantage of my constituents in Wilmington. If it’s a fight they want, they’ve got one. We will not stand silent and let them prioritize profits over the health, safety and quality of life of our community.