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

·2-min read

Los Angeles City Council have 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 — nosebleeds, wheezing, coughing — 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.

“For far too long, neighborhood oil drilling has disproportionately affected the health of our low-income communities of color,” said council president Nury Martinez at a news conference ahead of the vote.

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

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.

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.

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