Whittier hills nature, f(Oil)ed

Whittier hills nature, f(Oil)ed

Ky Watnick


I have lived all over sunny Southern California: Orange County, San Bernardino County, Los Angeles County. While each place is certainly different, they all have that beautiful California scenery. For the most part, that means hills and mountains covered in beautiful chaparral or coastal sage scrub with animals of every creed and conscience running amok. One of the reasons I was drawn to Whittier College was its proximity to nature, but that nature may soon suffer. 

The City of Whittier acquired 1,280 acres of land with Proposition A funding, which is meant to be used for preserving wildlife. Unfortunately, a 2008 agreement between the City and Matrix Oil Corp. gave them permission to drill on seven acres of this wildlife preserve land. After a lengthy court battle and citizen resistance, it was determined in 2012 that since the land was purchased with funds given from Los Angeles County, the drilling could not occur against the wishes of the County, so they ruled against the drilling unanimously. Now, the decade-old case has been reopened by Matrix Oil Corporation and Clayton Williams Energy Incorporation, who are together attempting to get rights to drill in the hills.

I honestly cannot believe that this is still even being debated. First of all, the land should be solely a wildlife preserve, and the fact that the case is even being considered is incredibly depressing. Science has come so far. The facts are so easily accessible, yet these companies are willing to put our health, the health of the animals, and the health of the land at risk so they can bring in a bit more capital. They see us as a casualty of progress — their monetary progress, at least.

California is known for being ahead of the times. This is especially true for environmental concerns. We are making strides in turning all of our power into clean energy. We are moving towards zero water waste. We are creating a brighter future, and these companies want us to spit on that progress, turn around, and start walking back in time. Fortunately, there have already been several people rising up against these companies by going to City Council meetings and speaking out. They are simply putting the health and safety of the public over the concerns of the oil companies.

It is so insulting that these companies assume that we will all forget the concerns of drilling: the possible detriment to our water, air, and lands; the possible health hazards of bloody noses, blurred visions, and asthma; or the death of the natural beauty of the landscape. It is infuriating that they think dollar signs hide all of their damage and pain. I think it is about time that these companies go out of style. They are boring, old-fashioned, and dangerous. There is no reason they should be thriving in 2018. 

If you have the means to help put this to an end, please do. Show up to City Council meetings, which meet the second and fourth Tuesday of each month, and voice your opinion. Keep the oil where it belongs, and let the land serve its real purpose. 

For further information, read the local news column on page two.