Los Angeles Bans New Oil Wells, Plans to Close Existing Ones

Los Angeles Bans New Oil Wells, Plans to Close Existing Ones

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously on Friday to ban new oil wells and gas wells within the city, and eventually close existing ones. This is part of a California oil phaseout trend.

Los Angeles officials deemed the move necessary to protect residents living near oil wells. It also aims to curb climate change. The nation’s second-largest city wants to achieve 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2035.

” “When this ordinance is in place, there will not be any new oil or gas production whatsoever,” Paul Krekorian, Councilmember, stated during the council meeting. “That’s a very significant step that we’re taking .”

Los Angeles, together with Kern County in California’s Central Valley, is one of the largest oil drilling sites in the country.

The new ban comes as the Golden State aims to reduce oil drilling and eventually end its oil consumption. The California legislature voted this year to ban new oil wells near homes, schools, parks and other sensitive locations (Greenwire, Sept. 2).

The California Air Resources Board last month released its updated “Scoping Plan,” a blueprint that lays out how the state aims to achieve carbon neutrality in 2045. The analysis identifies a desired drop in petroleum consumption of 94 percent by 2045. It also outlines a plan to phase out natural gas use in buildings (Climatewire, Nov. 17).

Several California local governments have passed or are contemplating oil drilling bans, including Los Angeles-adjacent Culver city, Los Angeles County, and the cities Antioch and Brentwood in San Francisco Bay Area.

An association of oil drillers criticized the ban for being harmful to climate change. Rock Zierman (chief executive of the California Independent Petroleum Association) stated that California’s oil consumption isn’t falling.

This means that for every barrel we don’t produce, you must import it from a foreign country. They are just trying to increase imports from other countries into our crowded ports .”

It will be more expensive to get oil, which will increase the price of gasoline, he stated. It will also reduce in-state employment and “probably lead to expensive litigation .”

Faster oil well phaseout possible

The council vote approved a plan to shut down existing wells within 20 years. It also directed the city’s investigation into whether LA has the legal basis to reduce the term for some oil- and gas wells.

It also includes a commitment for workers in the transition oil industry to be supported. There are an estimated 31,000 industry workers earning roughly $95,000 to $105,000 annually, according to a study by Occidental College.

The plan provided recommendations on how to assist these workers in securing new jobs, such as the renewable energy economy.

The council described the new ban on oil wells as a significant step towards helping communities with residents of colour and those with lower incomes. Many of the oilfields are located in these neighborhoods.

Affected residents include Wendy Miranda, 26, who grew up in Wilmington, an LA suburb. She said that her apartment is less than one mile from an oilfield.

Miranda stated that she loved running when she was younger. But then at 15, she started having trouble breathing while exercising and was diagnosed with asthma.

Miranda said that her mother has asthma and must use a breathing aid machine several times per day. Miranda said that it was “heartbreaking” to watch.

“Doctors told Miranda that her health and respiratory problems are caused by her environment.

She was very happy with the vote of the City Council.

” “It’s definitely an win for the community,” Miranda stated. “This was definitely a community-led win. It’s something we’ve been fighting for .”

Reprinted from E&E News with permission from POLITICO, LLC. Copyright 2022. E&E News delivers vital news to professionals in the energy and environment industries.

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