LOS ANGELES — The City Council is moving forward on part of a motion calling for studies on eliminating oil drilling in Los Angeles near homes, schools, parks, churches and health-care facilities.
The 14-0 vote June 30 directed the city’s petroleum administrator to conduct a study on the issue and submitting it within 120 days, while a study directing the Department of City Planning to also conduct a study was sent back to committee for further review.
A law banning drilling near residential properties could have wide-ranging implications. There are more than 1,000 wells in the city and more than 580,000 residents living within a quarter-mile of one.
The motion, introduced in April by Council President Herb Wesson and five other council members, does not specify how far a drilling operation might need to be located from protected facilities, but directs the studies to offer recommendations.
The motion was approved by the Health, Mental Health and Education Committee earlier in June, which satisfied its public hearing requirement, so guest speakers were not able to directly address the motion at the City Council meeting.
At the committee meeting, many speakers both for and against the studies voiced their opinions.
Representatives of some oil companies, labor and business groups said eliminating oil drilling in Los Angeles could cause a loss of jobs while their counterparts from environmental groups spoke of the potential health hazards the drilling sites pose to nearby residents.
“Drilling ensures that we have the local resources needed to balance significant fluctuations in supply and demand,” Jessica Duboff, vice president of policy for the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, told the committee. “Restricting drilling could exacerbate existing supply and liability concerns and could lead to significant increases in energy prices and job losses.”
Residents who live near drilling sites have been speaking out in recent years about health complications they believe are connected to the local oil fields.
A growing body of scientific evidence has found that people living within 2,500 feet of active oil and gas drilling sites have an increased risk of health problems, including cancer, according to Stand Together Against Neighborhood Drilling-Los Angeles.
“We come from low-income communities of color across the city of Los Angeles overburdened by toxic exposure from oil drilling, and that’s why we are here coming together to speak before you today,” said Daryl Molina Sarmiento, a program director for Communities for a Better Environment and a co-chair of STAND-LA. “We care about the health of people and workers’ health and rights.”