Oil Company Drops Plan to Expand Drilling in South L.A.


Oil company Freeport McMoran is dropping its controversial plan to expand its drilling operation near USC, blaming the recent oil price collapse.

In an email statement provided to the Business Journal, a spokesman for the Phoenix oil company said its application to expand drilling on the Jefferson Boulevard site just west of USC will be withdrawn prior the end of the public comment period for its application, which is Jan. 26.

“The decision to withdraw the application was prompted primarily in response to the steep decline in commodity prices,” spokesman Eric Kinneberg said in the email.

Freeport McMoran had planned to drill one completely new injection well and extend drilling from one existing well and another wastewater injection well. But the plan ran into stiff opposition from neighbors and community activists who say the current drilling activity generates noxious fumes, excessive noise and truck traffic.

Freeport McMoran’s plan to withdraw its application was cheered by opponents, though in a statement a coalition representing opponents said the city of Los Angeles now should go after the oil company for a series of alleged permit violations at the site.

“Freeport McMoran’s application withdrawal should not delay their day of reckoning with residents,” said Angela Johnson Meszaros, general counsel with Physicians for Social Responsibility in Los Angeles. “The city now has a duty to review Freeport’s operations, to hold the company accountable and to impose new conditions that will protect residents.”

Freeport McMoran representatives have argued in public hearings that all the activities at the site are within the terms of their operating permit.

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