The economic collapse in the fall of 2008 and recession has impacted nearly all governmental jurisdictions including the City of Whittier. With new technologies to “see underground” Matrix Oil approached the City to apply for a lease to renew oil drilling in the hills. According to Matrix, the best site to get the most oil lies in Core Habitat of the Whittier Hills Open Space that is owned the City but managed by the Habitat Authority. The City hopes and expects to reap hundreds of millions of dollars from this arrangement. Some of the funds are proposed to go to the Habitat Authority.
- The City Council approved the project in late November.
- Lawsuits were filed challenging the project.
- On November 30, 2011, City of Whittier Councilmembers voted 5-0 to allow oil drilling on protected lands the City owns.
- Though the oil drilling project has “only” a 7 acre direct footprint, the impacts will be felt by the land well beyond.
- The narrow dirt access road to the Savage Canyon landfill that is currently used only by rangers for patrol, will be paved, widened and given a wide fuel modification on each side for oil company vehicle use.
- As approved, the operations will continue from a consolidated site north of Catalina for 30 years.
- Allowing an oil drilling operation in protected parkland is bad public policy. As approved, the mitigation package includes funding for acquisition, a possible second linkage over or under Colima and staffing. Formal conservation easements will be placed on the remaining City owned habitat parkland.