Southern California environment news and trends

Whittier oil drilling: Court leaves dispute unresolved for now

Whittier Oil Drilling

Grant Slater/KPCC

A sign notes the relationship the city of Whittier has developed with Matrix Oil to develop oil drilling in the Puente Hills.

The fate of plans to drill for oil on 30 acres of conservation land in Whittier remained uncertain Tuesday after a court proceeding ended without a final ruling. 

The parties in the case had anticipated a final ruling Tuesday. Whatever Judge Chalfant decides, lawyers for all sides say appeals are likely. The question of whether drilling can go forward on designated open space won't be put to bed any time soon. 

RELATED: Public officials, activists await court ruling about oil drilling in Whittier hills
The conservation land was paid for with money raised by a property tax L.A. county voters approved 20 years ago.  Under an agreement with the county's open space district, the city of Whittier promised not to sell the land or change how it was used, without the county's consent.

Whittier later leased drillings rights for the land to a company called Matrix Oil. Last year, the County sued to block the plan.

In June, Superior Court Judge James Chalfant issued a tentative ruling finding that Whittier had violated the terms of its agreement concerning the land. Chalfant said Whittier must get county approval to move forward with the deal.


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