Oil fracking in Baldwin Hills: The controversial process gets a hearing

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Fracking gained notoriety first for negative publicity about the practice's use in the Catskill Mountains.

Neighbors of the Inglewood Oil Field will have an opportunity to hear more Thursday about a controversial process used to produce oil there.

Environmental worries about fracking have risen lately in Northeast and Mountain West states, but as a method of producing oil and gas, the process is old.

Operating under a permit, Plains Exploration injects water mixed with gravel into its Baldwin Hills wells.

The company then pumps up a mixture from which it pulls the oil and pushes back down the water to squeeze through cracks in the rock.

California's regulations, tougher than federal standards, limit the pressure used in the process. Plains Exploration says it doesn't rely on chemicals to get the oil out, and the company has sponsored an independent study of fracking at the oil field that is currently underway.

Public officials and community groups say they'll offer details about that study and the practice of fracking in the Baldwin Hills area.

The meeting comes weeks after a report from the activist Environmental Working Group that accused state officials of failing to track fracking or collect enough data to assess its safety.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. on Thursday at the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area Community Center overlooking the oil field.

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