HERMOSA BEACH (CBS/AP) — Hermosa Beach is debating whether to get back into the oil business 80 years after the Southern California beach town first banned them.

KNX 1070’s Ron Kilgore reports an environmental review begins Wednesday on a project to drill as many as 30 wells.

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The Hermosa Beach City Council in May agreed to the study proposed by E&B Natural Resources Management Corp. of oil wells that would access the Torrance Oil Field.

The proposal is for a slant drilling project that would be built underground going out into the bay, meaning rigs would not be seen in the water like those in Huntington Beach or Santa Barbara.

Hermosa Beach banned drilling in 1932 but later permitted and banned it again. In March, the city settled a lawsuit over a project that was halted in 1995 when voters changed their minds.

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The settlement would allow Bakersfield-based E&B Natural Resources take over the project, which could produce up to 45 million barrels of oil.

Supporters say the city could gain as much as $500 million in revenue while critics fear environmental damage.

An election on the matter could be held next spring.

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