Los Angeles City Council approves ban of new oil and gas wells

Black and Latino communities in the city have been disproportionately burdened from the impacts of the fossil fuel pollution

Louise Boyle
Senior Climate Correspondent, New York
Wednesday 26 January 2022 22:12
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The Los Angeles City Council has approved a ban on new oil and gas wells, along with the phase-out of existing fossil fuel sites.

It means that oil and gas fields in the city will be shuttered after a decade of complaints from residents about negative health impacts they blamed on air pollution from the sites.

Black and Latino communities in the city have been disproportionately burdened from the impacts of the fossil fuel pollution, activists say.

Soon after the decision, STAND-LA, an environmental justice coalition seeking to end urban oil drilling, tweeted their thanks to LA City Council “for standing up to Big Oil”.

“This is a historic moment for frontline communities on the frontlines of oil extraction,” the group tweeted.

Ahead of the vote, council president Nury Martinez said: “For far too long, neighborhood oil drilling has disproportionately affected the health of our low-income communities of color.

Ms Martinez, who grew up in polluted neighborhoods in the city, introduced the measure along with council member Paul Krekorian, AP reported.

Following the vote, Bob Blumenfield, who represents the San Fernando Valley on the LA City Council, tweeted: “Today I was proud to cast a yes vote toward fully phasing out oil extraction in LA. The science is clear- generations of Angelenos have had their health impacted and lives have been shortened by this dangerous practice. It’s beyond time to put oil drilling in our city’s past.”

Mike Bonin, who represents the Westside of LA, also posted: “Today’s historic vote will phase out oil & gas extraction & storage in LA. I’m proud to be one of the first supporters of @STAND_LA‘s legislation & I salute the relentless grassroots advocates who made it happen. I celebrate this progress & look forward to continuing this work.

Los Angeles, the second most populous city in the US, has the country’s largest concentration of urban oil fields.

There are approximately 1,000 active or idle wells in the city, according to a city controller’s report citing data from the state Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources.

The Sierra Club, the country’s oldest environmental organization, reported last year that unlike other parts of the US, California does not have a buffer zone requirement between oil wells and communities.

The non-profit also noted that studies link proximity to oil and gas wells to health impacts, including cancer, premature mortality, asthma and other respiratory ailments.

“These impacts are not distributed equally, with communities of color and low-income communities being most affected,” according to the research.

Representatives from oil and gas industry groups oppose these types of measures, saying they would raise gas prices, eliminate jobs and make the region more dependent on foreign oil.

Rock Zierman, chief executive officer of the California Independent Petroleum Association representing nearly 400 oil and gas industry entities, said that the city’s measure is illegal.

“Taking someone’s property without compensation, particularly one which is duly permitted and highly regulated, is illegal and violates the U.S. Constitution’s 5th Amendment against illegal search and seizure,” he said in a statement.

The city of Los Angeles is the third government entity in the county to approve a ban and phaseout of oil and gas. Culver City and unincorporated parts of LA County have taken similar steps.

Wires contributed to this report

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