Let’s not look like Signal Hills

By Erwin Ulbrich

WHITTIER – On June 6, 2013, there was a lawsuit in Department 85 of the Superior Court of California between the various parties suing the city of Whittier and Matrix Oil Company to stop oil drilling in the Puente Hills Wilderness Preserve.



In part, on Oct. 1, 2013, Judge Chalifant ordered “a final injunction restraining and enjoining Whittier and Matrix and each of them and their agents, servants, employees and representatives and all persons acting in concert or participating with them from engaging in, committing or performing, directly or indirectly, any activity or disturbance whatsoever on the Property in pursuit of, or related to, the (Oil) Project.”

This seems quite clear, but after the judgment, the various parties were approached to see if some sort of settlement (money) could effectively go around the judgment and let drilling proceed. On Oct. 29, 2013 the five assembled Los Angeles County Supervisors voted unanimously to stop the drilling and accept the judge’s ruling.

At this time, the city has encouraged Matrix Oil Company to spend millions of dollars on this project including four EIRs, multiple hearings, and project plans, a 14-foot-deep excavation with the foundation for three oil wells, numerous publications, etc., all of which are worthless because of this judgment.

Matrix Oil was also encouraged by receiving a lease from the city. Future appeals are now being discussed which will greatly add to this expense. Ultimately the oil company can be expected to come against the city for compensation and it will not be pretty.

Now is a good time to STOP this project to CUT the Whittier citizens’ losses. Let’s concentrate on redeveloping Nelles, our vacant Whittier Boulevard properties, and our emerging Regional Health Center as well as making Whittier a safe and beautiful place for our newly arriving citizens to safely live and to recreate.

Whittier has many hidden jewels and we should spend our blood and treasure on polishing and adding to these jewels, and not building a crappy oil field that would make us look like Signal Hills in the 1950’s.

It has taken us 20 years to get rid of most of the Powerine Refinery which dominates the view out of my diningroom window. I see people still complaining about the bad smell of old tank residue.

Periodically I must drive through the tertiary recovery oil fields north of Bakersfield; I sure would hate to have something like this between Whittier and Hacienda Heights as the badge identifying Whittier.

Erwin Ulbrich is a retired Boeing Aerospace engineer, 50-year Whittier resident and longtime supporter of parks in Whittier. He’s a member of the Audubon Society, California State Park Association, National Park Conservation Association, Whittier Conservancy (inactive) and Whittier Hills Oil Watch/Open Spaces Legal Defense Fund.


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