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Opponents Dominate Hearing on Proposed Pipeline

May 03, 1987|GEORGE STEIN | Times Staff Writer

Opponents of the proposed Angeles pipeline brought hula hoops, signs stating "No More Gushers" and impassioned pleas against the project to a hearing in Carson on the pipeline's environmental impact.

They greatly outnumbered supporters of the project, who were loudly booed each time they spoke.

The hearing Thursday night was one of three held last week by the state Department of Transportation and the U. S. Forest Service to allow the public to comment on the project's draft environmental report.

Speaking in opposition was Laura Shipley of the Concerned Citizens of Gardena Against the Pipeline. She said the pipeline would lead to increased air pollution, which was already damaging the lung capacity of children.

"I, as a nurse, am accountable. Who is accountable to the public? If you don't start now and look for alternatives, we are all guilty of mass murder. Thank you very much."

The $225-million pipeline would provide a key underground connection between refineries in the South Bay and oil fields off the coast of Santa Barbara and in Kern County.

With the pipeline running at capacity, a river of crude oil would course at almost 10,000 gallons a minute through a 30-inch steel tube that would cross the boundaries of Inglewood, Carson, Compton, El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Gardena, Hawthorne, Lawndale, Long Beach and Los Angeles.

Behind the pipeline is a consortium of oil companies--Shell Oil, Chevron Pipe Line, Texaco Refining and Marketing and the Four Corners Pipe Line, an Arco subsidiary.

Oil company officials say the project is needed to transport crude from oil fields now being developed to refineries closest to the millions of consumers in the Los Angeles area and that it is safer than transporting oil by rail or barge.

At the hearing, Laurie Hunter, vice president of the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, said the project had the strong support of her organization. That statement was greeted with a chorus of boos.

She said her organization was in favor of the pipeline to help the overall economy, provide jobs and local revenues, including $29,000 a year in franchise fees that would be paid to the city of Long Beach. In addition, she said, by reducing oil-tanker truck traffic, the project would relieve congestion on the road. She also said that the pipeline would keep gasoline prices down in the Los Angeles area.

Opposing the project are residents and city officials, who say that pipeline construction will disrupt traffic and that there is a likelihood of major spills caused by earthquakes. The hula hoops, which are slightly larger in diameter than the 30-inch pipeline, were brought to the hearing by opponents seeking to indicate the size of the pipeline and dramatize the effect of a break and subsequent oil spill. In addition, they object to air pollution caused by refining the particularly dirty crude that will be pumped from the offshore oil fields. Offshore oil has particularly high metal and sulfur contents.

Carson Mayor Pro Tem Vera Robles DeWitt said the draft environmental report "was insensitive to local issues in our city and all along its route. For the record, the city does hereby protest the process" of environmental review. She added, that although refinery emissions will be reduced throughout the Los Angeles Basin, "in Carson they will go up. So what are we supposed to do?"

Current offshore oil production, which runs about 15,000 barrels a day, could expand during the 1990s to 250,000 barrels a day.

On Thursday, the energy and environment committee of the Southern California Assn. of Governments (SCAG) voted unanimously to oppose the project and the association's executive board is expected to follow suit next week, according to Catherine Tyrell, SCAG's energy program manager.

Two influential members of the SCAG executive board, Los Angeles City Council President Pat Russell and Councilman Robert Farrell, have already announced their opposition to the project.

Tyrell said local opposition, which has been building for months, puts the project in jeopardy because all of the municipalities must approve the project. To stand up against legal scrutiny, she said, approval may not be unreasonably withheld by the municipalities.

Reasons for Rejection

Tyrell said she believes that cities could make a good case for rejecting the project based on traffic disruption during construction, the possibility of ground-water contamination and other effects of an oil spill after an earthquake, and air pollution.

"It will be interesting to see," she said. "My guess is that if there is a tremendous amount of opposition, the consortium will not go forward. I would be surprised if they got to court."

Arco spokesman Al Greenstein acknowledged that municipalities could create significant difficulties to the project through opposition to franchise agreements and building permits, although the possibility of using eminent domain (to secure the route) was, he said, "an open question."

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