Friday, May 27, 2011

Cook Hill tries a little damage control

 Howdy friends and neighbors of the hills!

View of the Rio Hondo River from the San Gabriel Blvd. bridge.

Hooey!  News about the recent Plains Exploration & Production (PXP) oil spills here in Montebello sure has  stirred up a hornet nest's worth o' trouble for it's real estate subsidiary Cook Hill Properties LLC!

If you're a resident of Montebello, CA check your mailbox for the latest bit of propaganda public outreach from Cook Hill.  It's a post card with the title, "Visit the New Montebello Hills Community Website" and features a picture of a smiling, young, Latino family.  I reckon somebody over at Cook Hill must've realized that if you're gonna market a proposed housing project to "young families" in a predominately Hispanic community, then featuring photos of older, white folks is probably not the way to do it!  See:  "The Spotlight" April 2011 Edition.  Maybe I oughtta send Cook Hill a bill for my services as a marketing consultant? [Of course I wouldn't even consider doing that because I like my money the same way I like my water; without any oily residue.]

So, after months of being content to just sit in the back of the room during Montebello's city council meetings, the P.R. peeps for Cook Hill got it into their heads to start a new ad campaign for their proposed housing project in the middle of a working oil field.  Of course, their decision had nothing to do with all the negative publicity folks have been seeing about oil polluting the Rio Hondo River . . . yeah . . . riiiiiiiiight!!!!

Let's see now, the first news story about the spill(s) appeared in EGP News on April 23, "Montebello Oil Spill Clean Up In Progress (UPDATED)."

The latest story appeared in EGP news on May 4, "Past PXP Spill Went Unreported For Weeks, Also Being Investigated - Fish & Game officials are also investigating a 2010 spill that went unreported until County inspectors spotted evidence in the Rio Hondo."

On May 5, this news story was printed in the Los Angeles Wave, "Montebello Rotary Club Marks Work Day at Sanchez Adobe."

Mull over this interesting tidbit of information:

Cook Hill Properties, the company that wants to develop the Montebello Hills, provided parts and supplies for a future water drainage improvement project.

Hhhhmmmm, the news had just come out that PXP is being investigated for possibly violating water pollution laws and Cook Hill Properties LLC provides "parts and supplies" for a "future water drainage improvement project."  Coincidence?  Or did CH do this out of the kindness o' their little hearts?  I gotta give em credit though, them fellers sure have a lot of chutzpah!

PXP leaves it's mark.
No, it isn't a "real" tag but the oil that spilled out of this storm drain was real!

I wonder though if maybe this new postcard campaign wasn't influenced jes' a little bit by all the negative press PXP is getting in Wyoming? PXP has plans to drill 136 wells in an ecologically sensitive area near the Hoback River.  Folks in Wyoming have been discussing the oil spills that happened here in California and they're mighty concerned about PXP's record on protecting the environment!  Take a look-see at this:

Planet Jackson Hole
Co-Digi-llaboration PROPS
"Props & Disses 5.11.11"
PXP takes a leak
Wednesday, May 11, 2011

By Benjamin R. Bombard

David Madison, a representative for the Wilderness Society, says PXP has a pattern of running into trouble with regulators. He notes that the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOE) slapped the energy company with a $900,000 fine for not complying with requests to submit monthly oil and gas operations reports for its subsidiary company, Pogo Producing Co., which PXP acquired in 2007. BOE issued a noncompliance notice to PXP after the merger and a civil penalty, and then additional penalties.

The leak in Montebello and PXP’s disregard for regulations designed to ensure safety should serve as yet another red flag as the company gets set to drill in the Hoback Basin. PXP already took a leak in California’s water; will Wyoming’s be next?

 OUCH!!!!  That's gotta sting!

In case you haven't heard yet, the Hoback River was recently designated one of the 10 most endangered rivers in America and the  folks in Wyoming are feeling mighty protective. See story here.

Now back here in California, a story's come out about the construction of  "a cutting edge water recycling plant—unique in the world," at the PXP oil field in Arroyo Grande. "Arroyo Grande water recycling plant under construction," Cal Coast, May 25, 2011.

Coincidentally (ha!), Arroyo Grande just happens to be another one of Cook Hill Properties pet real estate projects that has yet to leap off the drawing board.

The primary purpose of this new water recycling project is to increase oil production (ka-ching!) for the oil company (PXP).

You know folks, usually the fellers from Cook Hill Properties are mighty scarce when it comes to getting involved in their parent company's business so when I run across a quote from CH's Vice President, Mr. Norm Witt, in a news story about PXP, well, it sure makes me sit up and take notice!

Here is what Mr. Witt has to say about this new water project:

“Anything that increases hydrocarbon production is helpful to the country, state and overall economy,” said Norm Witt, senior vice president of Cook Hill Properties which manages real estate assets for a number of PXP projects.

Ah yes, I can picture the commercial in my head:  flag-waving, patriotic-music-blaring,  fireworks-filled "rockets red-glare, the bombs burstin' in air,"  PXP is doing it's share!  GO TEAM PXP!!!


This new water recycling project is located near Pismo Creek which runs to the Pacific Ocean.  The project has gone through a pretty long regulatory process which included a Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (SEIR).  You can read more about it in this report:  "Wetland Assessment Report for the PXP Produced Water Reclamation Facility."  You see folks, there are 'wetlands" near this project that come under the jurisdiction of the United States Army Corps of Engineers which means PXP has to "clean up it's act" before dumping anything into Pismo Creek!

The story goes on to say:

Neither the designer nor PXP would divulge or discuss the cost to build and operate the facility, but a source close to the project who asked not to be named, says it is in the range of $65 million to $70 million.

Hey PXP!!!  Remember us folks here in Montebello?  If you can afford to spend "$65 million to $70 million" on a water recycling plant to increase production (and your own profits!) at the Arroyo Grande oil field then when are you gonna drop some chicken feed to replace all of the leaky "gaskets" and broken pipes here in the Montebello oil field???  We've got "wetlands" too, and they're also covered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers!

More importantly, before the Rio Hondo River makes it to the Pacific Ocean, it flows past several groundwater recharging facilities that replenish an underground aquifer.  If a crude oil spill reached the aquifer, it might contaminate municipal water wells that supply drinking water to thousands of people!!! 

Folks, I don't how y'all feel about this but I'm of the opinion that this new "smiling family" postcard campaign of Cook Hill's is a pathetic attempt to slap lipstick on a hog and call her Aunt Bessie.  An oil field is an oil field, and this particular oil field has a history of "leakage" problems that aren't being properly addressed.  Hopefully, these issues will get ironed out in the on-going investigation.

Sorry CH, you're not fooling anybody.

Daisy Mae

P.S.  I've been informed that the origin of the "Happy Hispanic family in the park" photo has been revealed!  Be sure y'all check out the La Merced website and read the entry dated May 24 - "Cook Hill Promotes New Montebello Hills Website."  Here's a heap o' thanks to Mr. Gary Thornton for this timely expose'!


  1. Get the City You DeserveMay 28, 2011 at 1:53 PM

    Daisy Mae, y'all hit the nail right on the head!

    I don't know if you can believe it, but I used to think that PXP needed to be informed about all the underhanded things that Cook-Hill was doing in our lil' backwater burg. I actually thought that PXP would take my report, thank me, and give CH a stern talking to.

    Imagine my surprise when I find that CH is actually PXP's best face! The things that PXP was doing in our lil' city were far worse than anything CH has done, so far. Spillin' oil and chemicals and money all over the land, in almost equal proportions seems to be PXP's modus opperandi.

    As far as that there green postcard, CH has now abandoned their attempt to put lipstick on their pig by printing all their material on recycled material. Look at all the 'newsletters' they have sent out. Recycled paper. No more of that. I wonder how many of the people shown in their latest (revised at least 8 times, by my count) website know that they are being used to support a WILDLY unpopular, fiscally and physically DANGEROUS proposal to build mainly condos on dangerous ground that CH says would possible kill 50% of the esisting and threatened plants and animals in the Hills?

    Well, if I go on much longer here, I'll have my own web address.

    Keep up the good work, and thanks for all yer efforts to help us here in Dogpatch, USA.

  2. Well, DM, Cook Hill has been caught misleading Montebello again! In their new, improved website listed on the postcard, there are lots of claims and little objective proof.

    However, there are some 'Technical Documents' listed for download. One is called the Montebello Hills Specific Plan. Unfortunately, it is missing all of the exhibits listed in the table of contents. I guess part of the MHSP is better than none.

    The second one is called the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR). Again, unfortunately, it is actually only Volume 1 of the DEIR. That is 20.7% of the full DEIR. Appendix J is included in a separate download, but NONE of the other pesky technical reports are included. No grading chart showing more than half of the 488 acres would be destroyed, no cut and fill chart showing the 100 feet lopping off of the Hills and filling up of its arroyos with dirt, no pesky technical reports with their inconveniently negative connotations.

    Appendix J is the PXP DRAFT Remedial Action Plan for the Montebello (Hills) Oilfield. After the recent oil spill scandal, is the best that they can do to respond? Virtually NONE of the safety measures listed to contain spills were apparently at the latest spill site. Is this DRAFT plan supposed to make us feel better?

    Does Cook Hill and PXP really believe the residents of Montebello are that stupid? I don't know about you, but I feel insulted by their attitude.

    If Cook Hill can't even be trusted to label their own documents in an honest manner, how can their or PXP's statements and plans be believed?

  3. Check the Facts,

    I like to get my information straight from the horse's mouth and in this case, that means the City of Montebello since it is the lead agency in charge of reviewing these documents.

    You can find the complete Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR), including appendices and other supporting documents, by visiting the city's website at

    Click on "Departments" at the TOP of the page then go to "Planning and Community Development."
    On this page y'all will find a nice photo of Mr. Michael A. Huntley – Director of Planning and Community Development. On the left side of the page is a beige menu, float over "Planning Division" and y'all will see the link for "Montebello Hills Specific Plan."

    Be prepared to sit a spell while you wait for things to download, there's a heap o' information on this page!

    Thanks for stoppin' by!

    Daisy Mae