Los Angeles County Bans New Oil Wells
Los Angeles County banned new oil drilling and set a 20-year phase-out of existing wells in late January.
The unanimous Board of Supervisors vote followed similar ordinances passed by Culver City in 2021 and Los Angeles City in 2022. Oil and gas wells are located near more than a million people throughout LA county and their pollution disproportionately harms people of color.
As reported by The Conversation:
Over a century ago, the first industry to boom in Los Angeles was oil.
Oil was abundant and flowed close to the surface. In early 20th-century California, sparse laws governed mineral extraction, and rights to oil accrued to those who could pull it out of the ground first. This ushered in a period of rampant drilling, with wells and associated machinery crisscrossing the landscape. By the mid-1920s, Los Angeles was one of the largest oil-exporting regions in the world.
Oil rigs were so pervasive across the region that the Los Angeles Times described them in 1930 as “trees in a forest.” Working-class communities were initially supportive of the industry because it promised jobs but later pushed back as their neighborhoods witnessed explosions and oil spills, along with longer-term damage to land, water and human health.
Tensions over land use, extraction rights and subsequent drops in oil prices due to overproduction eventually resulted in curbs on drilling and a long-standing practice of oil companies’ voluntary “self-regulation,” such as noise-reduction technologies. The industry began touting these voluntary approaches to deflect governmental regulation.
Increasingly, oil companies disguised their activities with approaches such as operating inside buildings, building tall walls and designing islands off Long Beach and other sites to blend in with the landscape. Oil drilling was hidden in plain sight.
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