6a00d8341c630a53ef017c3569c4d6970b-640wiThe following comes from a June 18 Christian Newswire article

As Pope Francis releases his historic encyclical urging world leaders to tackle the looming problem of climate change, South Los Angeles residents are asking why the L.A. Archdiocese has not taken a stronger stance to protect their communities from oil drilling that occurs just feet from their front doors.

For years, community members have been fighting to shut down two oil sites that operate on land leased from the Catholic Church in dense residential neighborhoods. The sites, operated by AllenCo and Freeport McMoran, have become lightning rods in their communities as hydrocarbon and hydrogen sulfide emissions from the sites have caused illnesses in the community.

In 2013, nearly three years of community organizing paid off when the federal Environmental Protection Agency temporarily shut down the AllenCo site and fined operators $99,000 after their inspectors toured the site and immediately fell sick with severe headaches and nausea due to chemical exposure. Residents have experienced a marked decrease in health problems since the shutdown, but worry what will happen when the site re-opens later this year.

The other drilling site on Archdiocese land, the Murphy site in Historic West Adams, has plagued residents with similar health and safety concerns. The site operates 24 hours a day and many neighborhood residents keep their windows closed throughout the day to keep out the noise, fumes and ash.

“The health and climate impacts of oil drilling are well documented, and we hope to enlist the assistance and partnership of the Archdiocese in ending this activity in our neighborhoods,” said Reverend Kelvin Sauls, Senior Pastor at Holman United Methodist Church. Several members of the congregation are residents of the community adjacent to the Murphy Site.