LA County Board Green-Lights Ordinance to Phase Out Oil Wells

  • Posted on 4 November 2022
  • By Jonathan Howard, Communications Coordinator
On a unanimous vote, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance that will ban new oil drilling and declare existing oil drilling a nonconforming land use in unincorporated Los Angeles. After Culver City last year, Los Angeles County is just the second oil-producing local jurisdiction to pass an oil drilling phase-out ordinance.
It’s a big step for frontline communities living near drilling sites whose health is disproportionately affected. Los Angeles County is home to 1,547 oil wells, 473 of which will be affected by this ordinance. Neighborhood drilling exposes county residents to toxic chemicals and smog-forming gasses, which cause respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease, cancer, birth defects, and premature death. Even wells no longer in use or idle threaten public health and saddle local governments with cleanup costs. 
“This win comes after years of frontline communities leading the fight against environmental racism for the health of their lungs and the safety of their families,” Nicole Levin, Sierra Club Campaign Representative said. “This decision not only protects our homes, schools and hospitals from these dirty, dangerous fossil fuel operations, but it is just one step in a more comprehensive plan looking out for the future of California. We understand that this is only one step in a much larger process and want to ensure that the Inglewood Oil Field is included in the phase-out study and phase-out. Californians overwhelmingly want real, aggressive actions taken to combat climate change and protect us from pollution and this decision would help do just that.”
At the same time, a similar effort is moving the City of Los Angeles closer to halting oil drilling inside city limits. In September, a unanimous vote by the city council stamped an ordinance that, if approved by the Los Angeles City Council in the coming months, would ban new oil and gas drilling and phase out existing operations within 20 years (both the city and county are working on a study that will shorten this timeline considerably).
These ordinances are necessary to eventually phase out all oil drilling in Los Angeles City and County. Sierra Club is working with our coalition partners and the frontline communities impacted to ensure that all wells in Los Angeles County are phased out as quickly as possible and that community health is prioritized.
Recognition is due to volunteers David Haake, Barbara Hensleigh, Sandra Cattell, and many others who organize monthly meetings turn out speakers for public comment, and work closely with SC organizers, our partners, and frontline communities.
Ensure that electeds follow through on promises to phase out oil drilling.

Header image: An oil pumpjack steals the scene with new power plant construction in the background. Los Cerritos Wetlands has been the home of heavy oil and gas production for years. By John Nilsson


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