Los Angeles County’s board of supervisors on Wednesday voted 5-0 to end new oil and gas drilling and phase out existing drilling infrastructure, potentially closing nearly 2,000 sites.
The unincorporated L.A. County area contains some 1,600 active and idle wells, according to the motion. Most of these are part of the Inglewood Oil Field, the biggest urban oilfield in the U.S.
The motion specifically cites community health problems associated with proximity to oil drill sites. It points to a June study published in the journal Environmental Research, which found living near active or inactive oil wells in the county correlates with major reductions in both pulmonary and lung functions. Separately, it cites a 2018 report by the county Department of Public Health indicating these adverse effects can persist as far as 1,500 feet away.
In the motion, Supervisors Holly Mitchell and Sheila Kuehl pointed to the outsized impacts on people of color as a result of these health issues. Of those residents living in close proximity to an active or dormant oil well in the county, 73 percent are people of color, according to the motion. The Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw area, the location of the Inglewood Oil Field, is nearly three-quarters Black, according to an analysis by The Los Angeles Times.
“In addition to this equity issue, which should concern all of us, oil and gas drilling is contributing to the climate crisis, which we are collectively bearing witness to every single day,” Mitchell, who represents an area that includes the oil field, told the Times.
In a separate motion, the board voted to analyze whether each drill site has recouped costs; local regulations bar shutting an existing well down before the costs have been recouped, according to the newspaper.
STAND-LA, a community organization dedicated to ending drilling in the city, praised the vote and called on the Los Angeles City Council to follow suit.
Thank you @PaulKrekorian @cd4losangeles @PaulKoretzCD5 @mhdcd8 @mridleythomas @MikeBoninLA @MitchOFarrell for your part in this UNANIMOUS #LACounty victory! We hope @LACityCouncil also passes the LA City oil phase out motion to protect the health and safety of all LA residents pic.twitter.com/ATDarbd9pz— STAND-LA (@STAND_LA) September 15, 2021