LA bans new oil wells, shuts out existing ones

LA bans new oil wells, shuts out existing ones

  • US News
  • December 2, 2022
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The Los Angeles City Council on Friday voted to halt all oil drilling in LA and ban new wells, a historic move in a city built by a once-booming oil industry and whose residents have suffered the environmental consequences for decades.

By a vote of 12 to 0, the council passed a new regulation immediately banning new oil and gas production and requiring all existing oil and gas production to cease production within 20 years.

The move is opposed by the oil industry, whose leaders warned city officials the move would hurt the city’s finances and make LA more dependent on foreign oil.

According to the city’s planning department, Los Angeles has 26 oil and gas fields and more than 5,000 oil and gas wells. Some of the fountains are active while others are idle.

Many fountains are located in Wilmington and the waterfront areas, but are also operational in downtown, West Los Angeles, South Los Angeles and the northwest San Fernando Valley, according to the city’s planning department.

Oil wells are known to be likely to release carcinogens like benzene and formaldehyde, and living near wells is linked to health problems like respiratory problems and premature birth, studies have found.

MAP: Check the oil wells in your neighborhood

Environmental justice activists allege that low-income black communities have been particularly hard hit by the wells and the associated health problems.

In an October letter to city officials, the California Independent Petroleum Assn., a trade association representing more than 300 independent crude oil and natural gas producers, denied claims of “adverse health effects” from oil and gas drilling and production operations.

The group also said the loss of oil production in the city of Los Angeles would result in more oil imports entering California through the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

“The South Coast Air Quality Management District has identified oil tankers as a major source of air pollution in the LA Basin,” the group wrote.

The group also referenced a June 2020 study by Capitol Matrix Consulting that estimated the oil and gas industry contributes about $250 million to the city’s overall finances.

The city government official’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the $250 million figure.

A 2018 City Controller report cited state data showing that 77% of the city’s active and idle fountains are operated by six companies: Warren E&P; Freeport-McMoRan Oil & Gas LLC; Tidelands Oil Production Company; Southern California Gas Company; Pacific Coast Energy Company LP; and Brea Canon Oil Company.

City Council President Paul Krekorian on Friday called the ordinance a “monumental step” in the history of the city and its relationship with oil.

He noted that City Hall is adorned with artwork celebrating the petroleum industry, a business that helped LA grow in the early 20th century and later provided jobs for veterans after World War II.

“This may be the most important step towards environmental justice this council has taken in recent times,” Krekorian said.

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