When E&B Natural Resources agreed to buy out Macpherson Oil's lawsuit against the city, thus settling it, company officials pledged to keep Hermosa Beach citizens informed on the proposed drilling project in the city maintenance yard. As part of that pledge, the company posted a website earlier this week at www.EBNR-Hermosa.com.
While many in the city see the posting as a pledge of good faith, others are less willing to accept it.
"There are no numbers. There are no facts," said Jeff Cohn, a Hermosa resident who has been protesting the settlement and the drilling project via his website www.nobpinhb.com.
Dency Nelson, on the other hand, is trying to keep an open mind about the project.
"I am like most folks in town, not taking a position," he said, emphasizing that he has never voted for drilling and doesn't see himself doing so when the project comes up for a vote this spring. Still, "I really want to be fair in this process."
As part of the settlement, E&B agreed to have the project put before the voters in the city once it has gone through all the various reviews, including an Environmental Impact Report.
"It’s consistent with what we think a very important of this process," said Steve Layton, president of E&B, about the website, "and that is for us to provide as much information as people as we possibly can over the next year or so, so when the time comes for the vote the people will be able to make their choice based on a full slate of information."
Former Hermosa Mayor Michael Keegan said that he thought the website was misleading, but current Mayor Fishman felt that the company was being fairly transparent.
"This website is just the beginning," Fishman said, pointing out that he was speaking as an individual and not on behalf of the City Council. "I think the best thing anyone can do at this point is to put information out there. As things change I suspect they will continue to revise [the site]. The important is that they are making themselves available to the community."
Nelson, who agreed that it is in E&B's best interest to present the project in as positive a light as possible, also said that when he met with company officials shortly after the settlement, they did not "sugarcoat" the project.
"After the meeting, I had less of an open mind with him being straightforward," Nelson said.
Layton is acutely aware that the fate of the project lies in the hands of the voters, but at the same time, he believes that presenting as much information as possible will only help his cause.
"As I see it, our job is to present the facts as they are and the biggest piece of that information will be the environmental impact report," he said.
He emphasized that he is also concerned about safety, as well, and that the significant reserves of oil that can be extracted will make the risks worth it.
"But we also know that this project will not go forward unless we believe and more importantly, the citizens of Hermosa Beach believe this can be done in a safe and environmentally responsible way," Layton said.