The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday voted to ban new oil and gas wells and to phase out existing wells over a period of five years, following decades of complaints by residents who have grappled with health problems from living near drilling sites.
The measure, introduced by Council members Nury Martinez and Paul Krekorian in December 2020, is part of a broader push by the county and the state of California to establish more distance between drilling and people and transition away from climate-changing fossil fuels.
The region includes one of the largest urban oil fields in the country, with more than 5,000 active wells in LA County and more than 1,000 active or idle wells within city limits. More than half a million people in LA live within a quarter-mile of active wells that release air pollutants like benzene, hydrogen sulfide, particulate matter and formaldehyde, and the pollution disproportionately affects Black and Latino residents.
Research shows that people who live near oil and gas drilling sites are at greater risk of preterm births, asthma, respiratory disease and cancer. Living close to wells is also linked to weakened lung function and wheezing, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Research.