Opponents to South LA oil drilling say AllenCo upgrades won’t be enough

Nalleli Cobo walks in her neighborhood near AllenCo | Esperanza Community Housing

Nalleli Cobo, part of the People Not Pozos campaign, walks in her neighborhood near AllenCo in November 2013. Click to view more photos. | Esperanza Community Housing

For months South L.A. community members complained of foul odors coming from their neighbor: AllenCo Energy Inc., an urban oil drilling site. After more than 200 complaints and a four-month investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency, the company agreed to spend $700,000 to improve their site. Yet the South L.A. community that has been opposing AllenCo’s operations says those upgrades still won’t mitigate the health consequences.

“They really shouldn’t be there at all,” said Ashley Kissinger, project manager for Esperanza Community Housing, which offers affordable housing properties as little as 25-feet away from AllenCo.

Last year Esperanza launched a campaign called People Not Pozos (People Not Oil Wells) to draw attention to community health concerns, including complaints of asthma, headaches and nosebleeds. Eventually the campaign helped bring about a temporary shut-down of AllenCo.In February Los Angeles became the biggest city in the country to approve a moratorium on fracking. This month Beverly Hills became the first city in the country to permanently ban fracking.

“Every day they’re not open is a win for us,” said Kissinger, referring to AllenCo, which resides less than a mile from Saint Mary’s College, the University of Southern California, LA Trade Technical College, Norwood Street Elementary and St. Vincent School. “But we don’t know what the future holds,” she added.

Listen to more comments from Kissinger in an audio story from Annneberg Radio News:

Fracking, or induced hydraulic fracturing, is an oil mining technique where liquid is mixed with chemicals and sand and injected at high pressure into a well. The process has been accused of creating water contamination, air pollution and hazardous health effects. Fracking proponents say it helps to create jobs and provide energy independence for the United States.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the oil industry peaked at almost 100,000 jobs in 2009. That number has slowly been declining since then.

“The unconventional oil and gas revolution is not only an energy story,” said Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of IHS consulting firm, in an interview with Fox News last year. “It is also a very big economic story.”

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