Phasing out Oil and Gas Operations in Los Angeles
The NCSA membership voted in 2017 to support the establishment of a 2,500-foot health and safety setback around oil and gas extraction in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles is one of the only places in the US where oil drilling occurs right in the middle of a densely populated urban metropolis. Over 620,000 Angelenos live within a half-mile of an active oil well.
The science is clear that the use of 12 common chemicals used by oil companies during extraction and production exposes people to health risks such as respiratory illness, cancer, damage to the nervous system, cardiovascular disease, reproductive and endocrine disruption, and irritation of the eyes, nose, and skin.
South Coast Air Quality Management District data show that roughly 265 reported well stimulation events from June 2013 through June 2014 occurred at sites within 1,500 feet of at least one hospital, preschool, or residence—and some were as close as 12 feet. Many wells are close to several facilities housing people especially vulnerable to toxic chemicals such as children, the elderly, and people who are already sick.
Of the roughly 1,000 active wells in Los Angeles, more than half are located in low-income neighborhoods of color, which are already overburdened by environmental hazards. Residents from these neighborhoods have documented serious health problems—including nosebleeds, chronic migraines, nausea, asthma, and other respiratory illness—in addition to daily disruption from drilling noise and vibrations, foul odors, and diesel truck traffic.
Oil drilling sits in Los Angeles also emit smog-forming gases that worsen Los Angeles’ air quality, such as hydrogen sulfide, benzene, toluene, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds.
Continued oil extraction and production in the City of Los Angeles is incompatible with the goals set forth by the mayor’s Sustainability pLAn, which requires dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emission and maps out a clean energy economy for Los Angeles in order to combat climate change. The time to begin a just transition to clean energy is now.
There is a broad and growing coalition of organizations and neighborhood councils supporting a 2,500-foot health and safety setback separating oil and gas extraction from sensitive land uses such as homes, schools, and hospitals. Studies have shown this is the minimum safe distance to mitigate the health and safety risks posed by oil and gas extraction.
Below is more information. We invite you to contact Lisa Hart at [email protected] or 323.660.2780 with any questions.
Update December 2020—on December 1, the City Council’s Energy, Climate Change, and Environmental Justice (ECCEJ) Committee voted to begin the process to shut down oil drilling sites. Learn more here. It was fun to see the long list of NCs that have chimed in on the agenda—check it out!
Update April 2021—The NCSA board signed onto this letter in support of a city-wide phase-out of oil and gas production operations.
Update September 2022—At long last, we have a draft ordinance! Learn more at planning.lacity.org/oil-and-gas-drilling-ordinance.
Update December 2022—City council passed the ordinance! See what the LA Times had to say at www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-12-02/in-historic-move-l-a-bans-new-oil-wells-phases-out-existing-ones.
Updated December 5, 2022
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