A plan to phase out all new oil drilling and to ensure stronger oversight of existing wells was approved by the LA City Council on Wednesday, January 26, 2022. This action aims to place public health and communities first as urban oil drilling has created significant public health and environmental justice concerns that disproportionately impact low-income communities of color.
The approach implements the recommendations advanced by the 10th Council District which advocated that the City not authorize any discretionary action that would create a pathway to entitling drilling on new sites, but rather ensure that all future oil uses be banned altogether.
The 10th District’s efforts on this issue have been driven by listening sessions with residents and community advocates who have experienced the direct impacts of living near urban oil fields.
There are currently 67 active wells in the 10th Council District at two operating drill sites - the Packard Site on Pico Blvd. in Mid-City and the Murphy Drill Site on Adams Blvd. in Jefferson Park.
A study published in the journal “Environmental Research” last April, which focused on drilling sites in two South L.A. neighborhoods, including the Murphy Drill Site, linked living near urban oil wells with wheezing and reduced lung function, symptoms disproportionately and directly affecting people of color in Los Angeles. According to the researchers, in some cases, the respiratory harm rivaled that of daily exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke or living beside highways.
The approval of this motion will lay the groundwork for a path to ensure adequate staffing for oversight of existing oil operations and the development of a plan to phase out this use through the development of an amortization study.
The advancement of this plan will have broader public health, environmental justice and safety impacts across the region as approximately a third of LA County residents live less than a mile from an active drilling site.