L.A. City Council Votes Unanimously to Move Forward with Ending Oil Drilling Citywide

Vote Directs the City Planning Department to Draft an Ordinance Declaring Oil and Gas Extraction a Non-Conforming Land Use Throughout Los Angeles

Download Release
Hill

For Immediate Release
Contact: Kacey Bonner, (310) 402-3013, kbonner@chromacollaborative.com
Date: Wednesday, January 26, 2022

LOS ANGELES — After a decade of advocacy by frontline communities, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to pass a motion that advances phasing out oil and gas extraction across the city. The motion specifically directs the Department of City Planning to work with the City Attorney’s office to draft an ordinance that prohibits any new oil and gas extraction operations and makes existing extraction activities a nonconforming land use in all areas of the city. The ordinance will also include a study to determine the phase-out period, a plan to plug and remediate inactive wells and direction to the City to participate in L.A. County’s Just Transition Taskforce to ensure an equitable transition plan for impacted oil workers. Today’s vote is a clear victory led by impacted residents who have tirelessly promoted public health and racial and environmental justice in Los Angeles. The motion was introduced by Councilmember Paul Krekorian and seconded by Council President Nury Martinez.

The vote serves as a turning point for Los Angeles spurred by years of community organizing and advocacy from residents who have been subjected to the ill effects of oil drilling and environmental justice advocates with the STAND-L.A. coalition. Together, they gathered support from across Los Angeles and urged L.A. City Council members to protect public health by phasing out neighborhood oil drilling.

During discussion of the motion, community members emphasized the need to protect public health. They also voiced how important it is to ensure that workers employed at oil drilling companies are supported as the citywide phase-out unfolds gradually in the coming years. Speakers congratulated the decision-makers for approving this precedent-setting win-win policy that removes planning obstacles and provides opportunities for community revitalization, economic development and job creation in some of the most impacted communities in Los Angeles.

The City Planning Department will now draft an ordinance that will then head back to the City Council for final approval, after it is reviewed by the L.A. City Planning Commission.

In response to the Council’s passage of the motion, STAND-L.A. coalition members released the following statements:

“This morning’s vote represents a tremendous victory for frontline communities across the city of Los Angeles. Unified within STAND-L.A., their strategic and tenacious campaign to outlaw neighborhood drilling has culminated in our elected council members voting to end one of the City's most noxious structural inequities and begin repairing the harm driven by decades of racist planning and zoning policies. These policies have caused frontline communities across Los Angeles severe and lasting health impacts, destructive land uses and toxic air pollution that contributes to climate change. This morning’s vote begins the work of phasing out all existing operations and leads the way for an equitable transition to jobs that promote community health and economic growth. Many thanks to members of our City Council who supported and championed this motion, and understand their responsibility as stewards of the City to maintain its sustainability for future generations.

-Nancy Halpern Ibrahim, MPH, Executive Director, Esperanza Community Housing

"Today's vote to prohibit new oil and gas extractions and phase out existing oil drilling sites in our city is monumental and a direct result of years of grassroots advocacy. After six years of organizing in South L.A., we are deeply grateful for the frontline communities that have lent their voices and leadership to address the harmful health impacts of urban oil drilling and build a healthier city. SCOPE celebrates this win with South L.A. residents and leaders, while recognizing there is still work to do to fulfill L.A. City's commitment to public health equity grounded in racial and environmental justice. We look forward to being part of the process to help draft an ordinance as quickly as possible."

-Gloria Medina, Executive Director, SCOPE LA

“This is a very important day for the environmental justice communities in Los Angeles. After being adversely impacted by polluting oil drilling operations in their neighborhoods for generations and after a decade of advocacy and perseverance, frontline communities and youth activists from Wilmington to South L.A. have proven the skeptics wrong. We have shown that if you fight for justice and stay the course, you can make a difference and change the policies that impact your health and your quality of life.”

-Ashley Hernandez, Youth Organizer and Wilmington community leader, Communities for a Better Environment.

"No community should be a sacrifice zone. Today, we celebrate this vote for bringing us one step closer to protecting the health of our low-income, Black and brown neighbors living next to the inherently dangerous practice of oil drilling. Years of collective work by these frontline communities, medical and health professionals and environmental justice advocates have led us to this moment. We must continue to stand with Angelenos as they fight for the right to breathe clean air. Today is proof that Los Angeles can lead the charge toward a just, equitable transition to a clean energy future."

-Martha Dina Arguello, Executive Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility - L.A. and Co-Chair, STAND-L.A.

“Today’s vote to end oil extraction in the City of Los Angeles is as a result of the persistent advocacy of the STAND-L.A. Coalition for justice and equity. It is also a major victory for public health in our communities against environmental racism that says: Our people matter. Our families and children will be protected. We deserve toxic-free environments. And health is a human right. This vote paves the way for imagining a physically transformed and healthy South Los Angeles.

-Rev. Louis Chase, Holman United Methodist Church

“Years of tireless community organizing, advocacy, research and public education by frontline environmental justice organizations led to this historic vote. Today, Los Angeles – a city built on the world’s largest urban oil field – is turning away from its toxic past toward a more sustainable and just future.”

-Richard Parks, President, Redeemer Community Partnership

“Today’s vote at the City Council to phase out oil drilling in Los Angeles is the result of years of patient and steadfast organizing by residents and community organizations across Los Angeles. Liberty Hill issued our DRILLING DOWN report in 2015 to call attention to the plight of residents living next door to toxic and dangerous oil drilling. And from South L.A. to the Harbor, frontline residents have worked diligently to educate our city’s representatives about the harmful health and climate impacts of oil drilling. Liberty Hill is proud to stand with and support frontline communities and celebrates today’s victory.”

-Shane Murphy Goldsmith, President/CEO Liberty Hill Foundation

”Today’s vote to end oil extraction is a huge milestone towards health equity in our community. Black Women for Wellness celebrates this victory in solidarity with all of the Black women and families in the frontline - You are seen and more importantly, you have been heard. We will continue our work with STAND LA to ensure that our health is valued and our future generations are sustained with policies that keep our livelihood in mind.”

-Kaela Thomas, Environmental Justice Coordinator, Black Women for Wellness


ABOUT STAND-L.A.

STAND-L.A. is an environmental justice coalition of community groups that seeks to end neighborhood drilling to protect the health and safety of Angelenos on the front lines of urban oil extraction.