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⚡ "The Hidden History of California Oil"

The Carbon Copy

Photo by Zbynek Burival / Unsplash

Hosts: Stephen Lacey & Alexandria Herr
Guests: Dr. David Gonzalez | Postdoctoral Fellow | UC Berkeley &
Dr. Sarah Elkind | President | American Society for Environmental History
Category: ⚡ Energy | California Oil

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Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[1:57] AH: “I have been on a crusade to prove to people that California is not the green state that everybody thinks it is. And the reason for it is this phenomenon […] called residential drilling […]. There's no rule in California that says oil wells have to be a certain distance from a home or a school or a hospital. It's one of the only oil producing states where that's actually the case. So these wells are everywhere. Actually 14% of all of the public schools in Los Angeles are within 2,500 feet of a well, and 7 million Californians live within a mile of a well. So it's this really widespread problem.

[6:51] AH: “It's a public health nightmare. These oil wells can make you really, really sick. They're linked with asthma, lung disease, and cancer, preterm birth, just a whole host of really horrible stuff. People who live next to them are exposed to higher levels of all different kinds of pollution […]. And these health burdens often end up falling hardest on California's communities of color, what environmental justice groups call fenceline communities, because they're right up against the fence of these industrial sites.”

[10:18] DG: “Historically redlined neighborhoods have less access to parks and other green space, higher risk of preterm birth. […] There's […] higher temperatures in historically redlined neighborhoods, higher risk of cancer. […] We're finding that people that live today in neighborhoods that were readlined 80 plus years ago have poorer environments and poor health as a result. […] We consistently saw the neighborhood with the worst grade had significantly more wells.

[13:54] DG: “Our study, I think, adds to this emerging evidence that people of color are disproportionately exposed to oil and gas wells. And that matters for several reasons. One of the reasons that matters is because communities that are racially marginalized, so majority Latinx and black communities are not just exposed to oil and gas wells, they're more likely to live near many types of pollution, many sources of pollution. And that cumulative burden of pollution that can make health outcomes even worse. So I think it's important to consider the historical nature of these exposures and these environmental inequities.”

[15:02] DG: “California is an oil state. And in fact, in Los Angeles in the early part of the 20th century, the 1920s, at one point, Los Angeles oil fields produced over 20% of the global oil supply. […] California was a substantial oil and gas producer and continues to be.”

[17:27] SE: “What happened in LA and the reason you have oil wells disguised as other kinds of things in Los Angeles right in these residential neighborhoods is the residential neighborhoods were built first, or at least the land was subdivided for development first. And then oil was discovered.”

[23:04] SE: “A lot of folks opposing [the] drilling during World War II who were saying, it seems to us that if the oil companies are going to come in and drill for this for the war efforts, it's fine. But then they should be also willing to make sacrifices and shut these wells down at the end of the war. And the oil companies refuse to do this. So at the end of the war that justification of the war emergency goes away, but the oil companies don't stop asking. And what they do is they concentrate their asks in the working class, hispanic communities.

[24:32] DG: “The safest thing from a public health perspective is not to produce oil and gas. If we are going to continue producing oil and gas, at least in the short term. One of the policies that seems to be effective is creating a setback or a buffer zone. So that, for example, you can't drill wells within a few 1,000 feet of where people live.”

[24:57] AH: “The California State Government could make residential oil drilling illegal and institute a buffer zone at basically any time. […] Environmental justice groups, community groups, people affected by this have been asking the government to do something for decades. […] As it is, without any regulation on neighborhood oil development, California's oil history is continuing to shape the lives and health of millions.”

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify | Google
🕰️ 27 min | 🗓️ 05/11/2022
✅ Time saved: 25 min

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