Los Angeles City Council Has Banned Oil and Gas Drilling

City Council approves ban over the next 20 years with unanimous vote last week

By Dolores Quintana

In a unanimous vote last week, the Los Angeles City Council voted to ban new oil and gas drilling and phase out existing wells over the next 20 years. 

As of 2018, it was reported by the City Controller’s office that 780 active and 287 inactive, but not sealed, wells exist in the city of Los Angeles. In Wilmington, there is an oil field with hundreds of active wells and, according to PBS.org, these wells produced 10 million barrels of crude oil in 2019. Wilmington is near Long Beach and is in the midst of a largely Latino area, Some of these wells are run by E&B Natural Resources Management Corporation and Warren Resources and are near the places where people live, work and play with their children daily. 

Los Angeles City Council president Paul Krekorian said, as quoted by KTLA.com, “Hundreds of thousands of Angelenos have had to raise their kids, go to work, prepare their meals (and) go to neighborhood parks in the shadows of oil and gas production. The time has come …. when we end oil and gas production in the city of Los Angeles.”

Oil production has always been present in Southern California. Still, its presence is only sometimes acknowledged by the city government and residents, perhaps because the wells are located outside trendy and rich neighborhoods. 

Warren Resources CEO and president James A. Watt said, as quoted from a statement to the Associated Press, “We intend to use all available legal resources to protect our major investment from this unlawful taking.”

Los Angeles City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson said, as quoted by KTLA.com, “In Los Angeles, we sit on the largest urban oil deposit in the world. So if Los Angeles can do it, cities around the world can do it.”

A University of Southern California study stated that two neighborhoods near oil fields in Los Angeles, namely University Park and Jefferson Park, had residents with significantly higher incidences of health issues and distress like sore throats, irritated noses and eyes, wheezing and dizzy spells. According to KTLA.com, those are areas with large Latino and Black populations. 

This is part of a long-term plan in Los Angeles to shut down oil production for good since the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors enacted a similar ban in 2021 as reported by The Associated Press. The state of California is moving in the direction of banning oil production and consumption entirely as well with the state legislature passing Senate Bill 1137. This bill would forbid the California Geologic Energy Management Division from giving approval to oil companies building new oil wells within 3,200 feet of residential neighborhoods and other sensitive areas as reported by CNBC.com.

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