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Whittier Press Release, Feb. 1

Whittier Press Release, Feb. 1

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Published by SGVNews
Whittier Mayor Owen Newcomer indicated today that he is pleased with yesterday’s
ruling in Los Angeles Superior Court denying the request for a temporary restraining
order (TRO) that would have prohibited site clearance work.
Whittier Mayor Owen Newcomer indicated today that he is pleased with yesterday’s
ruling in Los Angeles Superior Court denying the request for a temporary restraining
order (TRO) that would have prohibited site clearance work.

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Published by: SGVNews on Feb 02, 2013
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02/02/2013

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CITY OF WHITTIERFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEFebruary 1, 2013CONTACT:
Jeffrey W. Collier, City Manager, (562) 567-9301
CITY OF WHITTIER PLEASED WITH JUDGE’S RULING
 
Whittier Mayor Owen Newcomer indicated today that he is pleased with
yesterday’s
 ruling in Los Angeles Superior Court denying the request for a temporary restrainingorder (TRO) that would have prohibited site clearance work; instead clearance work isexpressly allowed to continue for the Mineral Extraction project on a 1.99-acre test drillsite in the Whittier hills.
Newcomer stated that “this shows th
at Matrix was properlyfollowing the process laid out in their approvals and obtaining the appropriate permits.
We’re pleased that the project is moving forward on schedule and with ca
reful
monitoring.”
Judge James Chalfant
’s
denial of the requested relief was in response to an applicationbrought by the Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority (MRCA) and County of Los Angeles. The agencies had inaccurately claimed that site grading wascommencing. However, Judge Cha
lfant’s
close examination of the facts found thatWhittier had properly approved the clearing of vegetation on the site as well as fuelmodification removal
s along the access road to the site. The City’s ap
proval of theclearance work was issued on January 30, 2013 and specifically prohibited any gradingactivity. The City has not approved project grading plans nor issued any gradingpermits
 –
details which were overlooked by the challenging parties.The City
’s
approval for vegetation clearance work came only after Matrix Oil compliedwith 79 specific requirements from the City Council
’s 2011 approval of a Conditional
Use Permit (CUP) and Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The CUP and EIRestablished more than 200 conditions of approval and mitigation measures for compliance. The City has retained Marine Research Specialists (MRS) to provideongoing review of plans and monitoring of all site work to assure full compliance withCUP and EIR requirements. Prior to any site clearance work, Matrix Oil also obtainedapproval of a Habitat Mitigation and Monitoring Plan from the US Fish & WildlifeService, as required prior to City approval for work to proceed. As site workcommenced yesterday, four environmental compliance monitors were on site to monitor and oversee work.In a statement issued on January 31, 2013, Los Angeles County Supervisor GloriaMolina described the Whittier hills as
“1,290 acres of pristine, essentially untouched
land perfect for 
environmental preservation.” Unfortunately
, this is a significantmisrepresentation of the condition of this area. In reality, the land was used as anoperating oil field for over 100 years with approximately 550 wells drilled during thattime. The area where the new oil drill pad will be located has long been closed to thepublic and had significant impact from historic oil operations. The seven-acre projectsite is littered with broken asphalt paving mixed with fill soil, along with numerous
 
City of Whittier Press Release 2-1-13invasive, non-native plant materials. The hills in the area are carved with old drill sitesand roads. The biological analysis in
the project’s EIR notes that this area is not withina “high quality habitat area.”
 
The City’s approval
to allow oil extraction from a small seven-acre site includesnumerous mitigation measures that provide for significant environmental restoration of this historically degraded habitat area. Some of the required mitigation and habitatenhancements for the site listed below are illustrative of the extensive efforts beingmade to improve and enhance the quality of the habitat
 –
to the benefit of generationsto come. Furthermore, the project will provide a replacement funding source for thePuente Hills Habitat Preservation Authority, the agency that oversees management andoversight of the Preserve. Current funding for the Habitat Authority will be lost onOctober 31, 2013 with the closure of the Puente Hills Landfill.The City applauds Judge Cha
lfant’s action to reject the req
uest to stop the current siteclearance work and looks forward to resolving the current disputes so this importantproject can move forward and benefit the residents of Whittier, the County, and, mostimportantly, the habitat within the Whittier hills.Key Site Mitigation and Habitat Enhancement Provisions:1. Revegetation of approximately 25 acres with native seed material around the westend of the Colima tunnel to provide better cover and attract more animals to use thetunnel. (EIR Mit. Measure BIO-4h and CUP COA #23)2. Establishment of a Land Acquisition/Revegetation fund in the amount of one percent(1%) of gross proceeds, up to $15.0 million. These funds are to be used for acquisition of additional open space land however, if purchase of such lands cannotbe accomplished within 10 years of establishment of the fund, the funds could beused to revegetate disturbed property to improve habitat to afford more and better foraging opportunities for wildlife. (CUP COA #80)3. Preparation of a study to determine the feasibility of an additional underpass or overpass north of the existing underpass on Colima Road and to decide which ismost advantageous to animal survival while crossing Colima Road. If an additionalwildlife crossing is recommended, Matrix Oil will bear all costs of the design andengineering, environmental review and mitigation (if required) and construction costsof the wildlife passageway/crossing. Matrix is required to advance the fundsnecessary to build any additional wildlife crossing, but the full amount of the costsadvanced will constitute a credit against the Land Acquisition/Revegetation Fundestablished (pursuant to COA 80). (CUP COA #81)4. Creation of an exotic eradication/habitat enhancement program within designatedpriority areas within the Preserve and Project site
 –
including annual contributions of $30,000 per year (with annual CPI increases). (CUP COA #70.2)

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