Los Angeles Officials Propose Outright Citywide Ban on Oil Drilling

Ordinance would prohibit new oil and gas extraction and phase out existing extraction operations

Last week the Los Angeles City Planning Department released a draft ordinance that would prohibit new oil and gas extraction, phase out existing extraction operations, and protect the public from the range of risks and hazards associated with oil and gas extraction.

Rather than imposing setback requirements, this new ordinance goes further, with the end result of phasing out all oil and gas extraction activities in Los Angeles. This new citywide approach responds to Mayoral and Council direction and builds upon ongoing efforts by the Department to center issues of environmental justice, equity and sustainability through land use considerations.

“We learned from the environmental justice groups which became known as the STAND-LA Coalition that fracking wasn’t the full problem, rather neighborhood oil drilling was the real problem we needed to address to protect the health and safety of Angelenos,” said Councilmember Paul Koretz, who represents Century City and Westwood. “Consequently, my colleagues and I introduced the original motion to create a safety buffer zone around drill sites in 2017, the staff reports from the Petroleum Administrator came back and the City Attorney informed us that declaring oil and gas a non-conforming land use and using an amortization process as pioneered by Culver City was the smoothest path to protecting Angelenos. My colleagues and I took that path in our Energy, Climate Change, and Environmental Justice Committee and here we are today. I look forward to a full public engagement process on the draft ordinance and look forward to approving it.   I also want to make sure that oil and gas workers don’t just face unemployment, but that they have ongoing green jobs cleaning up all these toxic sites for the coming decades that it will take to clean up all of these toxic sites.”

In Los Angeles, there are 26 oil and gas fields and over 5,000 oil and gas wells—some active, others idle, and some abandoned. City Planning, along with the Office of Petroleum and Natural Gas Administration and Safety, Department of Building and Safety, and Fire Department, are responsible for monitoring and enforcement of existing drill sites.

City Planning, along with the Office of Petroleum and Natural Gas Administration and Safety, Department of Building and Safety, and Fire Department, are responsible for monitoring and enforcement of existing drill sites.

In the coming months, City Planning will facilitate public meetings with local stakeholders. Feedback collected at these hearings will inform the final ordinance that the Department will advance to Los Angeles’s City Planning Commission for a formal recommendation.

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