On January 26, the City Council took a historic step toward protecting our neighborhoods and public health by ending all oil and gas production throughout the city. By unanimous vote, the City Council adopted the policy intiated by Councilmember Paul Krekorian to prohibit any new oil or gas drilling within the city limits, and to make existing extraction a “nonconforming use” that will be regulated and eventually phased out entirely.
Today, 600,000 Angelenos live within a half mile of one of hundreds of active oil and gas wells. Toxic chemicals related to the extraction process cause higher rates of cancer, asthma, respiratory disease, and premature and low-weight births. This pollution has disproportionately impacted communities of color, spurring the growth of a potent environmental justice movement that pushed for years to move extraction out of neighborhoods with land-use “setbacks.” Krekorian’s initiative, which he proposed in December 2020, went much further by prohibiting extraction everywhere in the city.
Today, less than one percent of crude oil processed by Southern California refineries comes from the City of Los Angeles, so prohibiting extraction here will have no effect whatsoever on consumer gasoline prices. It will, however, have a significant effect on reducing illnesses and health care costs, improving children’s opportunities to succeed in school, uplifting the quality of life in countless neighborhoods, and making more land available for productive community-serving uses.