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Residents of Hermosa Beach Shoot Down Oil Drilling Proposal

Voters in Hermosa Beach overwhelmingly voted against a proposal that would have allowed the drilling of new oil wells in the seaside community.

According to NBC Los Angeles, Measure O, if passed, would have allowed EandB Natural Resources Management Corp. to construct a nine-story-tall oil drilling rig, as many as 30 oil and gas wells and miles of underground pipeline. Residents turned out in record numbers, voting the measure into obsolescence with a 78.9% majority.

Not all of Los Angeles’s suburbs share the same views as the residents of Hermosa Beach, however — on the same day as the Measure O vote, residents of La Habra Heights voted to reject a measure that would have banned the construction of new wells and restricted hydraulic fracturing.

Supporters often tout the economic benefits of drilling for oil and gas; the industry currently makes up 8% of the U.S. economy and employs 9.8 million people across the country. In a ballot argument, supporters of Measure O said the bill would have brought “hundreds of millions of dollars of new revenue,” to the city, helping fund much-needed infrastructural upgrades as well as providing salaries for its firefighters and police officers.

But for many in Hermosa Beach, the economic advantages that increased oil drilling would have brought to the community weren’t enough to erase the potential hazards that these operations would create for both public health and the local environment.

“By rejecting Measure O, Hermosa Beach votes are protecting underground aquifers, which supply water for 11 cities in Los Angeles County, from the threat of toxic wastewater, which would, had Measure O passed, have been dumped into four injection wells,” explained Breanna Norton, Southern California organizer with Food and Water Watch.

And now that Measure O has been rejected, Hermosa Beach will actually be losing millions rather than making them. According to the New York Times, Hermosa Beach now owes $17.5 million in damages to EandB Natural Resources Management Corp., the energy company with which the city has had a contract since 1992. That sum is about half the amount of the city’s annual fund budget.

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