Time's short for settlement in Baldwin Hills-PXP dispute [UPDATED]

Los Angeles County officials told neighbors of the Inglewood Oil Field in Baldwin Hills that they're working to resolve disputes over the smells, sounds and safety of oil production. KPCC's Molly Peterson reports that time's running out.

[UPDATE: LA County Planning department officials say they are actively enforcing existing the rules provided for by the Community Standards District. Neighbors to the oilfield have criticized the county - in part - for not including more and tougher rules in the CSD passed in 2008. At Wednesday's meeting, LA County planning director Richard Bruckner says officials offered specific examples of enforcement.]

[CLARIFICATION: Mark Ridley-Thomas told the crowd Wednesday that as of January, talks had stalled. According to handouts provided at the meeting, "all parties have whole-heartedly reengaged in settlement talks." Any statement that PXP "walked away" from negotiations is incorrect.]

Almost three years ago, neighbors to the field in Baldwin Hills didn't want oil drilling to resume after a 2-year ban. They offered opinions as LA County planners developed standards - rules that govern how the oil field looks, how local regulators monitored its air, and how Plains Exploration would clean up once it stopped working a well. Then Community Health Councils, Culver City and other groups sued, saying the county had conducted an inadequate environmental review for those rules. For more than a year, Plains Exploration, the county, and the groups have been trying to settle the case. "Last month it was clear that the settlement discussions were stalled," LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas said. He told attendees of a public meeting that talks are active, and all parties are giving negotiation one more try. "There may have been misperceptions that nothing or very little was going on. I can assure you that a lot was going on," he said.

Some oilfield neighbors say they're still frustrated, and still want stronger oversight of Plains Exporation's operations. County planners maintain they're doing everything they can. Without a compromise, a trial will begin in about a month.

Earlier story, filed 2/23:

Los Angeles county and state environmental officials plan to meet Wednesday night with neighbors of the Inglewood Oil field about plans to monitor oil production in the area. KPCC’s Molly Peterson reports.

The company Plains Exploration – known as PXP - produces oil from the Inglewood field. Since a ban lifted, they're extracting more oil from more nooks and crannies than before. That’s re-ignited tensions with people in Baldwin Hills and Culver City whose properties surround the operations. Three years ago, the LA County Board of Supervisors voted to end a moratorium on drilling in Baldwin Hills - on the condition that PXP met environmental and monitoring standards as it worked. But oilfield neighbors have repeatedly complained to the county and to regulators that nobody’s developed or enforced those rules. They’ve pressed Mark Ridley-Thomas, the county supervisor for that area, to take stronger action. While the politics play out, Community Health Councils have pursued legal action against PXP and LA County, demanding more environmental review. The dispute's slated to go to trial next month.

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