Residents who say they’ve been affected by oil and gas drilling in their neighborhoods plan to speak Tuesday at a Los Angeles City Council committee meeting to demand greater protections from extraction operations.
Members from the group Stand Together Against Neighborhood Drilling-Los Angeles and environmental advocates plan to urge the Energy, Climate Change and Environmental Justice Committee to create larger buffer zones from oil and gas drilling facilities. The committee is considering the latest oil and gas drilling regulations, which put the city on a path to restrict the process altogether.
The residents are asking the committee to add a 2,500-foot health-and-safety buffer ordinance that would phase out active oil wells close to homes and schools within five years, and to pursue a workforce development and economic revitalization program that benefits oil and gas workers affected by the new restrictions, cleans up polluted neighborhoods and other measures.
Officials with STAND-L.A. said that the city’s petroleum administrator’s recommendation for implementing a 600-foot setback from residencies, schools and worship facilities from existing oil and gas wells, as well as a 1,500-foot setback for new wells, doesn’t go far enough to protect people from health issues.
“If our city moves forward with a 600-foot buffer policy, many families will still be in danger,” a resident of Wilmington, said in a STAND-L.A. statement. “I love my community, and it is high time for politicians to prioritize our health, which is not possible with a 600-foot buffer.”
The idea of banning oil and gas drilling could have wide-ranging implications, officials said in July, noting there are more than 1,000 wells in the city and more than 580,000 residents living within a quarter-mile of one.
Representatives of some oil companies, labor and business groups said two years ago that eliminating oil drilling in Los Angeles would cost jobs, but residents who live near drilling sites have complained about health issues they believe are connected to the local oil fields.
According to the petroleum administrator’s report, the proposed regulations for Los Angeles are estimated to cost the city least $724 million in anticipated litigation, lost oil production, well abandonment, environmental remediation and cleanup and surface land value.
The report also stated the potential cost to the city could range from $1.2 billion to $97.6 billion in constitutional taking of mineral rights from owners of the city’s remaining 1.6 billion barrels of recoverable oil and gas reserves.