Los Angeles Sued Over Oil and Gas Drilling Ban
Oil company Warren Resources has sued Los Angeles this week after the city unanimously passed a ban on new oil and gas drilling. The oil company is arguing that the ban will shut down its operations, and the lawsuit aims to prevent the law from taking effect.
Warren Resources operates only in the Los Angeles area, with 244 wells and a 10-acre extraction site in the city’s Wilmington neighborhood. The company extracts about 1,800 barrels per day, as reported by The Associated Press.
The ban, which passed in December, bans new oil and gas drilling in Los Angeles city limits and also includes phasing out existing wells over the next 20 years.
But Warren Resources says that the ban violates the California Environmental Quality Act, the Los Angeles General Plan and state and federal constitutions.
“The City has failed to ask the necessary questions and obtain the required evidence at every turn, has rushed every legally required process along the way, and as a result has based its approval and adoption of the Ordinance on a woefully deficient environmental document,” Warren Resources’ attorneys wrote in the lawsuit filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court, as reported by CNBC.
The lawsuit also argues that the ban will lead to more fossil fuel imports and increased emissions. The Los Angeles Times reported that four additional oil companies, E&B Natural Resources Management Corp.; Hillcrest Beverly Oil Corp.; E&B ENR; and Elysium Natural Resources, have filed a separate lawsuit against the city over the oil and gas ban.
Although oil companies are filing lawsuits over the ban, residents had praised the passing of the ordinance last month. Local communities have complained for years over the pollution and health impacts of local oil and gas extraction within the city.
Studies have found that close proximity to oil and gas development sites are linked to health problems, including asthma, pregnancy complications and increased risk of cancer, and one study noted that these sites expose populations to known carcinogens.
A report from nonprofit Communities for a Better Environment further found that Wilmington, where Warren Resources operates, has very high rates of asthma, cancer, heart problems, respiratory illnesses, low birth weights and miscarriages and is also the site with the highest concentration of refineries in the state.
“This is a baseless lawsuit to delay common sense protection for vulnerable communities,” Bahram Fazeli, research and policy director for Communities for a Better Environment, told the Los Angeles Times. “The city has the right to determine its land-use priorities and to make communities whole and healthy.”
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