LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Mayor Eric Garcetti signed a City Council measure today aimed at eventually banning new oil and gas wells in Los Angeles and beginning the amortization process necessary before phasing out existing oil and gas drilling.
“This is a landmark step forward in our fight for climate justice,” the mayor wrote on Twitter Thursday.
Garcetti also thanked the STAND-LA coalition for its advocacy on the issue. Several council members last week also credited the group for getting the issue to a vote. The coalition proclaimed on Twitter last week that the move was “a historic moment for frontline communities on the front lines of oil extraction. #NoDrillingWhereWereLiving.”
On Jan. 26, the City Council approved a series of recommendations from the council’s Budget and Finance Committee, including:
— having the Department of City Planning and the City Attorney’s Office draft an ordinance to prohibit new oil and gas extraction and make extraction activities a nonconforming use in all areas of the city
— having the Los Angeles Office of Petroleum and Natural Gas Administration and Safety hire an expert to conduct an amortization period for existing wells, a prerequisite to decommissioning existing oil fields to allow the oil company to recoup its investment if it hasn’t already
— having the Los Angeles Office of Petroleum and Natural Gas Administration and Safety create a framework for plugging and remediating abandoned oil wells, which can leak hydrocarbons and methane, with the intention of having the oil companies bear the responsibility.
The ordinance to ban future oil drilling will have to come back for another vote of the City Council.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted last year to ban new oil and gas wells and phase out existing wells in unincorporated areas.
The city of Los Angeles has 26 oil and gas fields and about 5,274 oil and gas wells, according to the Department of City Planning. Seventeen drill sites are either active, idle or perform gas drill operations.
A potential ordinance to phase out existing oil drilling would rely heavily on the amortization study, according to the Department of Planning, which recommended in its report to the Budget and Finance Committee that the city move forward with the ordinance to ban future oil wells in the interim, because it doesn’t require an amortization study.
In response to a request for comment on Jan. 21, the California Independent Petroleum Association sent City News Service a 2019 letter its CEO sent to Council President Nury Martinez opposing the city’s efforts.
According to the letter, “increased setbacks and additional restrictions … will devastate the vitality of the city of Los Angeles by: eliminating thousands of high-paying, middle-class jobs; costing the city tens of billions of dollars; relinquishing tens of millions of dollars in local tax revenues; raising the cost of living for all Angelenos; worsening the housing and homelessness crisis; and threatening the economy and the livelihoods of Angelenos by increasing dependence on unreliable foreign sources of oil.”