By Rebecca Koppenhaver
On a recent sunny morning, a small crowd gathered outside the Wilshire Boulevard offices of Liberty Hill to board a bus for a tour of Los Angeles. Unlike most tour buses, this one was not headed to Hollywood, but instead to the urban oil fields of Los Angeles and some of the most polluted communities and neighborhoods that exist among them. On board: a diverse group that included scientists, community activists and Liberty Hill supporters and representatives of other foundations interested in understanding more about living in neighborhoods that also happen to be oil drilling sites.
The tour looked at conventional drilling sites and their impacts, and presentations focused on extreme oil extraction techniques as well.
The bus headed to its first stop in south Los Angeles, the Inglewood Oil Fields. As Angela Johnson Meszaros, General Counsel for Physicians for Social Responsibility explained to passengers, the primary concern is the air pollution that results from both conventional and unconventional methods of oil drilling operations. Chemicals that are often used in drilling such as crystalline silica, methanol and hydrochloric acid are known carcinogens that harm the heart, liver, brain and respiratory and immune systems.