On Wednesday, September 15, 2021, the LA County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a motion to start the process to phase out existing oil and gas drilling and ban new wells in LA County, making it the first county in the country to do so.
This vote is a bold next step that residents and activists have worked toward for many years. And it marks the beginning of a formal process to phase out dangerous and life-threatening fossil fuel production and implement a just transition for workers and communities.
The historic milestone comes on the heels of a similar decision made earlier this year by the Culver City City Council to phase out and clean up oil wells within its borders by 2026. This is precisely the moment for governments to pursue a carefully planned exit from oil and gas production in a way that lines up with climate goals and invest in the clean energy sectors our communities will depend upon long into the future.
“Urban oil drilling is an environmental and health justice issue. Due to decades of redlining, environmental racism, and indifference of elected officials, the majority of these oil fields are situated in low-income Black and Latinx communities from South Los Angeles. Numerous studies link proximity to oil and gas wells to a host of health problems, including increased risk of preterm births and low birth weight infants, asthma and other respiratory illnesses, depression and other adverse mental health outcomes, and some types of cancer,” said David Haake, Chair of the Clean Break Team underscoring the health and community impact of oil drilling after hearing news of the vote.
“This vote is a historic win for communities in unincorporated Los Angeles County and now other cities should follow this environmental justice leadership. We got nine Los Angeles City Council members to sign on to a letter in support of the motion to phase out oil drilling. Now is time for the city of Los Angeles to follow suit,” said Central Group (Los Angeles) Chair Barbara Hensleigh.
“We couldn’t have done it without the community and our incredible volunteers,” said Nicole Levin, campaigner for Dirty Fuels, “A big thanks to volunteers Barbara Hensleigh, Siena Reale, Nico Ransinangue, Catherine Ronan, Sandra Cattel, Wendy-Sue Rosen, and David Haake for leading so much of this work.”