Center for Biological Diversity

Media Advisory, December 6, 2018

Maya Golden-Krasner, Center for Biological Diversity, (213) 785-5402,
Nalleli Cobo, South Central Youth Leadership Coalition, (562) 388-5646,
Ashley Hernandez, Youth for Environmental Justice, (310) 780-7753,

Court to Hear L.A. Youths’ Challenge to Oil Industry’s Retaliatory SLAPP Suit

LOS ANGELES— Attorneys representing youth groups from South Los Angeles and Wilmington and the Center for Biological Diversity will argue in a California appeals court Friday that an oil-industry lawsuit against the groups is “a classic example of a retaliatory strategic lawsuit against public participation” — a SLAPP suit that is designed to intimidate the groups and violates state law.

In 2016 the city of Los Angeles adopted new requirements for drilling applications and settled a lawsuit brought by the groups that alleged a pattern of environmental review violations and racial discrimination in the city’s oil-project approvals. The California Independent Petroleum Association then countersued the groups and the city.

“The oil industry dragged these brave young leaders into a long and burdensome court battle in a shameful attempt to shut them up,” said Maya Golden-Krasner, the deputy director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “Fossil fuel companies shouldn’t get away with using petty and retaliatory legal measures to bully victims of neighborhood drilling.”

“I have always been taught to fight for what I believe,” said Nalleli Cobo, of the South Central Youth Leadership Coalition. “And I believe that everyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status or zip code has the right to breathe clean air.”

“I have been dealing with terrible air quality since I was born, and my family has dealt with asthma and other respiratory issues living in Wilmington,” said Nizgui Gomez of Youth for Environmental Justice. “This is a problem that should have been fixed a long time ago, and we’re not standing down against this retaliation.”

What: Oral arguments in an anti-SLAPP motion brought by youth and environmental groups against the California Independent Petroleum Association in the California 2nd District Court of Appeal

When: Friday, Dec. 7 at 10:30 a.m.

Where: California Court of Appeals, Ronald Regan State Building (2nd Floor, North Tower), 300 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90013

Who: Attorneys for and members of Youth for Environmental Justice, the South Central Youth Leadership Coalition and the Center for Biological Diversity

In 2015 Youth for Environmental Justice and the South Central Youth Leadership Coalition, joined by the Center for Biological Diversity, sued the city of Los Angeles for rubber-stamping oil projects in communities of color. Both sides reached a settlement in 2016 after the city adopted new requirements for drilling applications to ensure compliance with state environmental review rules and protect vulnerable communities.

The California Independent Petroleum Association, which represents hundreds of crude-oil and natural-gas producers and related entities statewide, including oil giants Exxon and Chevron, then countersued the city and groups, arguing that the new requirements raised drillers’ costs without due process.

The groups filed an anti-SLAPP motion, which was denied by the L.A. Superior Court in an unexpected ruling. The Petroleum Association then filed a motion demanding nearly three-quarters of a million dollars in attorneys’ fees from the city and groups. That motion was also denied by the Superior Court judge.

The California 2nd District Court of Appeal will hear oral arguments in appeals of both decisions on Friday.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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