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Los Angeles lawmakers vote to support ban on new oil wells
CORRECTION: The headline of an earlier version of this report misstated the jurisdiction that moved toward banning oil and gas drilling. This version has been updated.
The Los Angeles City Council inched closer to fully banning oil and gas drilling within city limits after lawmakers voted on Wednesday to draft an ordinance prohibiting new gas and oil extraction.
City council members also approved hiring an expert to study existing wells to potentially decommission them, City News Service reported.
The city hailed the Wednesday vote as a step toward a cleaner future and, as one council member put it, “a model for the nation and the world.”
“This is a momentous step forward for Los Angeles, and a clear message we are sending to Big Oil,” said Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, the chair of the City Council’s Energy, Climate Change, Environmental Justice and River committee, in a statement to City News Service.
The city council follows in the steps of Los Angeles County, which voted in September to phase out oil and gas drilling and potentially shutter more than 1,600 sites within county limits, the Associated Press reported.
The state has also been taking steps to pivot away from oil and gas drilling and better protect residents from the health effects caused by fracking.
In April, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) released a plan to end the issuance of new permits for hydraulic fracking by 2024, part of California’s phasing out of oil extraction by 2045.
And in October, Newsom unveiled a proposal to create a 3,200-foot buffer zone between wells and community sites, including schools and homes.
Within the city of Los Angeles there are 26 oil and gas fields and 5,274 oil and gas wells, with “facilities in nearly every section of the 503 square miles of the city,” a council member claimed in a September letter, according to City News Service.
With Wednesday’s vote behind it, Los Angeles city will now draft another ordinance that would detail a plan to ban future oil and gas drilling.
At least one opponent of the move voiced concerns with phasing out oil and gas drilling. The California Independent Petroleum Association said thousands of jobs would be lost and it would cost the city billions of dollars, according to a letter obtained by City News Service.
StandLA, an environmental organization leading the effort to ban oil and gas extraction in the city, thanked city council members after the Wednesday vote and for “heeding the calls of frontline communities to get Big Oil out of our neighborhoods and putting us on the road to a clean energy future.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti also tweeted his support as did California congressional Rep. Nanette Barragán (D), whose district is centered in south Los Angeles.
Barragan wrote a letter to the council citing studies linking higher asthma rates and respiratory illnesses for communities living near oil and gas wells.
“In the city of Los Angeles, nearly one in three residents — mostly people of color — live within one mile of an oil and gas well,” she wrote. “This is a reality my constituents in south Los Angeles and the Los Angeles harbor region live with everyday, where urban oil drilling takes place within hundreds of feet of where people live.”
–Updated at 12:55 p.m.
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