Ryah Cooley

Proponents of oil drilling in Hermosa Beach form lobbying group

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Lorie Armendariz and Martha Logan, of Protect Hermosa's Future, at the group's booth at Fiesta Hermosa in May. Photo courtesy of Martha Logan.

Lorie Armendariz and Martha Logan, of Protect Hermosa’s Future, at the group’s booth at Fiesta Hermosa in May. Photo courtesy of Martha Logan.

Some Hermosa Beach residents have formed a group that supports the proposed oil drilling project.

While residents who oppose oil drilling have rallied through their group, Stop Hermosa Beach Oil, with signs all around town that say “Keep Hermosa Hermosa” for some time now, residents who are in favor of it hadn’t formally banded together until now.

Protect Hermosa’s Future made its debut at the Fiesta Hermosa event in May with an informational booth, said Martha Logan, one of the group’s members. According to a pamphlet for the pro-oil group, Protect Hermosa’s Future, “Safe oil recovery within Hermosa Beach’s limits can be accomplished which will provide the benefits to ensure a bright future for the city and people of Hermosa Beach for decades to come and even longer.”

The city and E&B Natural Resources signed an agreement last year that would allow E&B to call for an election as soon as November to lift Hermosa’s ban on oil drilling. If successful, the ballot measure would allow E&B to install 30 oil wells at the city’s 1.3-acre maintenance yard.

The agreement calls for the city to repay E&B $17.5 million if the ballot measure fails. E&B loaned the money to the city to help settle a lawsuit with Macpherson Oil. At the time, the city was facing up to $500 million in damages for having restored the ban on oil drilling in 1995 after entering into a lease agreement with Macpherson to allow oil drilling from the city maintenance yard in 1992.

If the project is approved, the city could receive $118 million to $270 million over the 35 years of the project’s lifespan and Hermosa Beach schools would receive $1.2 to $2.2 million, according to the Cost Benefit Analysis prepared by Kosmont Cos. for the city.

Logan said Protect Hermosa’s Future has at least 30 core members, but that more residents who support the project fear voicing their opinion because the issue is so divisive among Hermosa Beach residents.

Jim Sullivan, a resident and member of Protect Hermosa’s Future, said that for him, the benefits of the project, such as having funds to replace the city’s sewers or renovate the Police Department’s building, outweigh any potential risks that oil drilling might bring.

“It’s long-term financial security for the city of Hermosa Beach,” Sullivan said. “I believe that E&B will build the safest, most state-of-the-art facility that they can.”

Lorie Armendariz, another resident and member of Protect Hermosa’s Future, said that while it appears more residents are against the project than for it, enough time remains until the election for the group to try and change that.

“Those who are against it are a lot more vocal than those who are for it,” Lorie said. “I’m hoping it’s more of an even split or there’s a big chunk that just don’t know yet.”

Logan said that even if the ban on oil drilling is maintained, drilling still will be an issue for residents.

“This oil will forever be an issue in Hermosa Beach, regardless of what this vote is,” Logan said. “This will always be an issue until that oil is gone.”