LOS ANGELES, CA (May 24, 2021) - Board of Public Works President Greg Good announced this morning the appointment of Erica Blyther as the new Petroleum Administrator for the City of Los Angeles Office of Petroleum and Natural Gas Administration and Safety (OPNGAS). The news was welcomed throughout City Hall.
“Angelenos deserve an Administrator with deep expertise, an unflinching commitment to the health and wellbeing of families impacted by oil and gas wells, and a transition plan to lift up anyone impacted by the transformation of our economy,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Erica is the right person at this moment to lead Los Angeles toward a future less reliant on drilling, less dependent on the storage of fossil fuels -- and more focused than ever on working with residents, industry, and regulators to root every decision in environmental justice, sustainability, and public safety.”
Ms. Blyther comes to this position with on-the-job experience, having served as Acting Petroleum Administrator since late 2019 when the previous Administrator left to run the California Geological Energy Management Division (CALGEM) of the State's Natural Resources Department. In this position, she has helped liaise between the agencies responsible for the management, policy, and oversight of oil fields, gas storage facilities, petroleum refineries and pipeline franchise agreements. Since Ms. Blyther began working as Acting Administrator, a new pipeline franchise fee study has also been initiated. Previously, she worked as an Environmental Affairs Officer in OPNGAS, working directly with the Petroleum Administrator, as well as overseeing environmental affairs and community engagement, with an additional focus on policy analysis.
"Having worked closely with Ms. Blyther over the past year, I have absolute confidence that we’ve made the right choice," said Greg Good, President of the Board of Public Works. "Ms. Blyther's ability to work with diverse constituencies - ranging from environmental justice advocates and frontline communities, to regulatory agencies and labor - will be crucial as we navigate the complex landscape of oil and gas policy in our City, and usher in a new era in the history of oil in Los Angeles."
Demonstrating the City’s commitment to addressing oil and gas policy and impacted communities, the City Council has approved, and Mayor Eric Garcetti has applauded, new funding for additional staff and resources in the recently approved budget. The newly approved resources include three positions to establish a drill site compliance and review pilot program and over $3.5m and several positions in the Unappropriated Balance to initiate an amortization study of existing sites, which is necessary to determine timeline for making oil and gas extraction an incompatible land use within the City. In addition, two new positions in Planning and one in LAFD will help create a citywide collaborative approach to the City's oversight efforts.
"Oil and gas issues in Los Angeles are incredibly complex, and managing them requires a deep understanding of the issues our communities face, strong relationships with our partners and local leaders, and solutions on day one to make Los Angeles less reliant on drilling and fossil fuels," said Erica Blyther, newly appointed Administrator for the OPNGAS. "I am grateful for the support of the Mayor and City Council, and I am ready to build from the foundation laid with this office’s renaissance over the last five years to further safeguard the health of our residents."
Before coming to the OPNGAS, Ms. Blyther worked in sustainability at LA World Airports (LAWA) and is a 23 year veteran of the City of Los Angeles. Throughout her career, she has worked in different City departments on environmental issues including water quality, water conservation, water supply, energy, policy, CEQA/NEPA, air quality, storm water and hazardous substance management. She graduated from Duke University with a BA in Environmental Science and Policy and obtained her MS in Environmental and Occupational Health from California State University, Northridge while working full time and participating in the City's tuition reimbursement program. Ms. Blyther is a Registered Environmental Health Specialist with the State of California (REHS).
“We are thrilled the city has chosen Erica Blyther to fill this critical position to advance environmental justice and protect our climate. We look forward to working in close collaboration with her to enact the strongest regulations on oil and gas in the country,” said Monica Embrey, Associate Director of Sierra Club Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign.