January 27, 2022 By Ramona du Houx On January 26, 2022, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to prohibit the drilling of new oil and gas wells, phase out production of existing oil and gas wells and create a process for the phase-out and cleanup of existing oil wells, with a just transition. “Oil drilling is and has always […]
On January 26, 2022, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to prohibit the drilling of new oil and gas wells, phase out production of existing oil and gas wells and create a process for the phase-out and cleanup of existing oil wells, with a just transition.
“Oil drilling is and has always been an inherently incompatible land use with neighborhoods and schools and hospitals and homes. No one should have to wake up in her own bed with a nose bleed caused by toxic oil drilling chemicals. Nor with cancer caused by the same,” said LA City Councilmember Paul Koretz, EOPA California Leadership Council, and one of the co-authors of the original motion. “That said, we must also ensure the affected workers have a secure working future. Today’s item will take care of both.”
The motion specifically directs the Department of City Planning to work with the City Attorney’s office to draft an ordinance that prohibits any new oil and gas extraction operations and makes existing extraction activities a nonconforming land use in all areas of the city. The ordinance will also include a study to determine the phase-out period, a plan to plug and remediate inactive wells, and direction to the City to participate in L.A. County’s Just Transition Taskforce to ensure an equitable transition plan for impacted oil workers.
“On behalf of 430 elected officials from 49 counties working to phase out dangerous oil and gas drilling, EOPA California congratulates the LA City Council for their bold leadership to phase out and end the pumping of dirty fossil fuels that continue to devastate communities of color with toxic pollutants that can lead to premature death,” said Dominic Frongillo, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Elected Officials to Protect America. “EOPA Californian is working statewide to do the same as California transitions with a just transition for workers to a 100 percent clean energy future.”
The City of Los Angeles has a total of 5,229 oil wells, of which 296 are idle and the majority are located within 2,500 feet of homes, schools and hospitals. For comparison, in unincorporated Los Angeles County, there are nearly 2,000 active and idle oil and gas wells.
More than 580,000 LA City residents live within one-quarter mile of a productive oil and gas well. Scientific evidence shows that nearby oil and gas drilling operations can cause premature death. A host of ailments including, cancer, liver and kidney damage, neurological, cardiovascular and respiratory problems, low birth weights and birth defects have been attributed to oil and gas industries operations.
Communities of color host the majority of these oil and gas wells and continue to suffer greater health risks. In LA County, 44 percent of Black residents, 37 percent of Latino residents and 48 percent of Asian residents live near oil and gas wells, compared to 31 percent of Caucasian residents.
According to a report issued today by the FracTracker Alliance, Governor Newsom approved 10,212 oil drilling permits since he assumed office in 2019, mainly in communities of color.
“We will continue to urge Governor Newsom to stop issuing all oil and gas permitting now and to follow the lead of LA City and Culver City to phase out all oil and gas drilling and pumping operations, with a just transition as we move forward creating good union jobs with a just transition,” added Frongillo.
Culver City shows that phasing out fossil fuel use helps grow local economies—
Culver City voted in June of 2021 to phase out oil and gas production, enact a just transition for industry workers and require the cleanup of well sites in the city’s portion of the Inglewood Oil Field within five years.
“How Culver City is phasing out the Inglewood Oil Field’s production has been an example for other municipalities to follow as they transition away from fossil fuels and embrace a clean energy economy,” said Culver City Councilmember Alex Fisch. “We are proving there can be a just transition for workers. The job opportunities that have opened up by closing down oil and gas production show economic growth can be achieved. I’m pleased to see the City of Los Angeles moving forward in the same direction as we are.”
The Inglewood Oil Field is the largest contiguous urban oil field in the U.S., with more than one million people living within five miles of the site. Jurisdiction over the Inglewood Oil Field is split between Culver City and Los Angeles County.
On average, the field produces 2.5 – 3.1 million barrels of oil yearly on about 1,100 acres. Approximately 10 percent (78 acres) was located within the limits of Culver City.