LA County Board of Supervisors Passes Historic Measure to Begin Phase-Out of Oil Drilling
LA County would be the first in the nation to ban existing drilling
Los Angeles, CA - Today, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in support of a measure to begin the process of phasing out oil drilling on unincorporated Los Angeles County land. There are more than 1,600 wells in unincorporated LA County, with the majority located in the Inglewood Oil Field, the largest urban oil field in the country.
Today’s vote puts LA County on the path to being the first in the country to ban and phase out existing drilling. The Board also voted to create a program to ensure that wells are properly closed and cleaned up, and to expand the county's task force focused on a just transition for fossil fuel workers and communities.
Culver City voted in June to phase out oil production and require the cleanup of well sites in the city’s portion of the Inglewood Oil Field within five years. The City of Los Angeles is also working on developing its own policy to phase out oil drilling.
Environmental justice, climate, faith, labor, and public health groups have long called for an end to neighborhood oil drilling in Los Angeles, citing serious health risks for nearby communities and the need to stop fossil fuel extraction to avert the worst of the climate crisis. Ahead of the vote, groups submitted letters signed by 150 organizations and more than 4,000 petitions and comments to the Board urging them to protect Los Angeles communities by supporting the phase-out of dangerous oil drilling.
“We have an opportunity and responsibility as the home of the largest urban oil field in the nation to lead by example in creating an equitable path for phasing out oil drilling. Collectively, the motions that passed today center the needs of the communities and workers most impacted by oil drilling and build on Los Angeles County’s momentum in fighting climate change and sunsetting oil and gas operations,” said Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell. “I applaud the Board for continuing to move LA County forward on this critical issue and the countless advocates that have helped get us to this point. Our work is far from done but this is a promising step for environmental justice.”
"Responsibly phasing out oil drilling and cleaning up old wells is critical to ensuring we protect public health as part of a just transition in LA County," said April Verrett, President of SEIU 2015. "We applaud the Board of Supervisors for taking this historic vote, and hope that it can represent a model for the rest of the state to protect both workers and public health."
“The oil industry has threatened the health and safety of Los Angeles’ communities of color for decades,” said Martha Dina Arguello, Co-Chair of STAND-LA. “We are grateful to the LA Board of Supervisors for this important first step toward protecting frontline communities from toxic air in their neighborhoods, and bringing about a future free from fossil fuels that we all deserve.”
“In Wilmington, we are no strangers to oil drilling and the negative health impacts that come with living near so many facets of this industry. This oil drilling phase out is a huge step towards health and racial justice for thousands of Angelenos,” said Wendy Miranda, Wilmington Community Member and Intern for Communities for a Better Environment. “We have been waiting for action, and our lungs are ready for this change. I can’t wait for the day that all of us will be able to breathe clean air, regardless of our zip code."
“For over 10 years, Community Health Councils (CHC) has been working with the community to bring attention to and eliminate adverse health, safety and environmental risks and impacts from oil drilling and reimagine these spaces into lands that can build the health and well-being of the community. Today the Board of Supervisors brings us much closer to this reality and ensures that our most vulnerable residents are prioritized and cared for,” said Sonya Vasquez, Chief Operating Officer of Community Health Councils.
“Angelenos have been forced to live with dangerous oil drilling in our backyards for far too long, putting our families’ health at risk and adding to the climate chaos we’re already experiencing. This historic vote is the direct result of communities coming together to demand better,” said Sierra Club Campaign Representative Nicole Levin. “Ending oil drilling in our communities is possible, and for the sake of our health and our climate, we must do so immediately. We look forward to working with the County to follow through on this vote by phasing out existing drilling as soon as possible, and we urge the rest of Los Angeles to follow suit.”
“Today’s vote not only symbolizes the path forward for LA County, it represents the path forward for the entire state and country,” said Josiah Edwards of Sunrise LA. “It says to young, Black and brown people like me, ‘You deserve to have a future and we are going to take the action necessary to ensure that happens’. It represents the beginning of the end for fossil fuel corporations who have long benefited from environmental racism by deliberately perpetrating harm against our communities, seeking profit at our expense.”
“This historic vote builds on years of work by frontline communities who refused to be discarded as sacrifices by the oil and gas industry,” said Food & Water Watch Senior Organizer Jasmin Vargas. “Today, we applaud the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and also pay tribute to these climate champions. For too long Los Angeles communities have struggled with the toxic pollution that accompanies neighborhood drilling, only made worse by the pandemic and recent climate disasters. Today’s vote signals a new path forward for the Board of Supervisors and all other legislators faced with the growing calls for a just transition for jobs, health and the environment.”
“L.A. County’s vote makes it a national leader in responding to the code red climate emergency,” said Liz Jones, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “Now the rest of Los Angeles and California need to phase out oil production as fast as possible, or the hottest summer in California’s history will be the coolest of the rest of our lives.”
“We have heard the cries of residents across Los Angeles about the terrible health and neighborhood impacts they have suffered for years from oil drilling operations next door and nearby. Now, these same communities are leading the fight for their health, safety and our climate. We applaud the Board of Supervisors for taking this bold action on this urgent issue. We look forward to implementing a Just Transition for workers and communities to ensure they have their rightful place in the new clean energy, green and sustainable economy of the future,” said Shane Murphy Goldsmith, President & CEO of Liberty Hill Foundation.
“This historic vote improves the lives of thousands of L.A. county residents, who have been burdened for generations by oil and gas operations,” said Damon Nagami, senior attorney at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “This Board has shown tremendous leadership for others to follow as we transition to clean energy and away from dirty and dangerous fossil fuels.”
NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.