Councilman & Former Liberty Hill & UCLA Luskin Fellow Daniel Lee Leads the Way to Victory on Inglewood Oil Field Closures

by raymond on August 27, 2020

Last week, Culver City council members voted unanimously to phase out urban oil drilling in the city’s portion of the Inglewood Oil Field. This was the first and necessary step toward a just transition while protecting residents from a legacy of toxic emissions. Liberty Hill’s Senior Director for Strategic Initiatives, Michele Prichard caught up with Culver City Councilman and former Liberty Hill/UCLA Luskin Fellow, Daniel Wayne Lee on the recent win and what it took to get there. 

Check out the full interview below. 

Q: Why was this victory in Culver City so important?

A: In L.A. County, Culver City folks aren’t the only people who live close to the Inglewood Oil Field and a lot of people in Culver City frankly live close to a part of the Inglewood Oil Field that’s out of our jurisdiction, in Unincorporated L.A. County.  It’s my hope that this can give inspiration to the organizers who are looking to close down that greater portion of the oil field which affects people in Unincorporated L.A. County/City and on the edges of Culver City.

Q: What are the next steps from here?

A: Will we try to facilitate a just transition and get some of the same workers who work in the fossil fuel industry, union workers, to work on the remediation? We are sort of in the context of that conversation right now, everyone seems to want to jump ahead to what else can we build there? But that conversation is a little further down the road.

Q. Do you think it took a long time to get this far?

A: For the last 8 years, I’ve been organizing with the Sierra Club and with help with various members of STANDLA to try to push the close down of Inglewood Oil Field, so for me it feels like it’s almost been a decade. In terms of political time, it has happened fairly swiftly. We took our initial vote 2 months after the election, and that started the process and here just a little 2 years later, we are trying to outline the final steps.

Q. Could you speak to the council’s unanimous decision to combat urban oil drilling?

A: You’re not always there with people that agree with you and want to work towards that same type of thing, but I think this council in particular, and some of the candidates in the November election in Culver City, really do have an eye towards addressing the climate crisis and environmental racism.

Q. What did you take away from your experience at Liberty Hill? 

A: That was really one of the things I took away at my time at Liberty Hill, both in the environmental justice fellowship, but also in the meetings of Brothers, Sons, Selves. Just the power of coalitions, the power of showing up in solidarity and sharing those unfortunate stories of actual effects in the community today.