Towards the end of 2020, a proposition for a restoration project in the La Ballona Wetlands was set out by the SoCal Gas company in order to fix faulty pipes that could potentially be a bigger issue as time goes on. SoCal gas has continuously been drilling a part of the wetland for years with around 16 drilling wells prior to this proposal which explains why the proposition was able to be passed. As a compromise with activist-critics, oil companies that have infrastructure near the location stated they would be fixing leaky pipes and broken drills underneath the wetlands. In addition to reducing pollutant output, their production would also benefit from this plan as they would be enhancing their technology to put back in newer and better lasting drills in more territory of the wetlands.
The project is still strongly opposed by organizations such as the “Protect the Wetlands” and “Defend the Wetlands” organizations that have filed petitions against the project due to the vagueness the project entailed for the wetlands. Defend the Wetlands has gone further to file a lawsuit towards the end of January with the Los Angeles Superior Court against SoCal gas with hearings occurring in the future. By taking the opportunity to restore their equipment, SoCal is taking advantage of funds allocated towards wildlife protection to give them a cheaper alternative to operate their company in more of the wetlands. The fossil fuel industry is profiting from this “restoration” project that would give them an excuse as well as federal protection to exploit more of the wetlands to gain their own resources with millions of dollars of public funds.
The 9 years that the project is expected to durate would leave many of the different native species, most only found in California in a catastrophic state as they would need to evacuate from their ecosystem as it’s left unprotected from constant drilling. Along with loss of biodiversity along the coastal region, coastal cities are left vulnerable to possible flooding as the wetlands help regulate ocean levels and the soil would lose its richness. The proposition is misleading as the company plans to dig up about 2 million cubic yards of soil to refurbish their rusted infrastructure near areas they haven’t drilled before with the protection of the government who have been misled by misinformation surrounding the project as some conservation organizations have been corrupted over time from these such oil/gas companies.
“This is our beach, the beach that our community, our high school, our middle school, and elementary schools play at during the summer” stated Abigail Cregor, Vice President of the Ballona Creek Renaissance Club at CCHS when talking about the state the wetlands puts the rest of the environment.
The club for years has picked up trash along the creek that leads to the wetlands in order to help more clean water enter the wetlands with a needed permit from the city which they’ve had to halt due to COVID-19.
“Hopefully if cases continue to get lower then we could do a cleanup or two before the end of the year. It was a fundamental part of the club before” commented the Vice-President about the future of BCR cleanups. They have done some cleanups in the fall as socially distanced as possible with separate equipment for all who participated.
In order to take action, people must spread awareness continuously as helping protect the wetlands shouldn’t be a trend that dissipates from medias. Some some elected officials have shown opposition against the named restoration project in fear of disaster occurring if pipelines were to explode in the wetlands causing a crisis, so it is important that this becomes an ongoing movement fueled by public support. Making sure people know the background of candidates on future ballots is especially necessary to ensure that the environment is protected as many officials recieve endorsements from fossil fuel companies, swaying their judgement in those companies’ favors.
To support this cause, please donate to the Donations to the Defend the Wetlands organization as they are still awaiting hearing for their lawsuit against SoCal gas over the restoration project (https://defendballonawetlands.org/).
If you are passionate about enivronmental activism in your community, attend public hearings to support and fight for this cause. Intimidation stirred by these big name oil companies should not limit people’s willingness to act for the environment as the La Ballona Wetlands is a home to the city as a living, breathing, scarce ecosystem.
In the words of Abigail of BCR,“The more pressure we as a youth, we as a public put on the government, on the politicians saying we want to protect the planet as we want bigger better restrictions… the more pressure the judges in these courts are going to feel”.