When people think of Southern California, images of palm trees, beaches, boardwalks, and nightlife come to mind. Unless you are an Angeleno, you may not associate oil drilling and petroleum extraction with the Golden State.
In truth, Los Angeles is ground zero for urban drilling.
Oil companies drill wells and use toxic industrial chemicals on well sites just feet away from homes, schools, and medical facilities. These urban drilling sites degrade air quality and expose communities to toxic and carcinogenic emissions. Using state-of-the-art optical gas imaging (OGI) cameras, FracTracker Alliance—in collaboration with Earthworks’ Community Empowerment Project—has filmed emissions from oil wells in Los Angeles. The overwhelming amount of existing public health research (including recently published epidemiological reports from Stanford University and The University of California – Berkeley linking adverse birth outcomes [Tran, et al. 2020, Gonzalez, et al. 2020] and University of Southern California/Occidental College report on lung function), has confirmed these emissions are the source of a wide variety of health impacts for Frontline communities.
Previous FracTracker Alliance reports show that Frontline communities in the most heavily drilled areas of Southern California, and specifically those in Los Angeles, are predominantly low-income, non-white, and/or Latino. While city blocks have replaced an amazing number of oil and gas wells, a substantial number of extractive sites persist in these marginalized areas. FracTracker has worked to publish this data to support Frontline communities’ organizing in Los Angeles who have made major accomplishments so far this year.
New policy proposals could shift Southern California from a major source of greenhouse gases into a leader in our fossil-free future. The City of Los Angeles is currently considering zoning regulations to phase out oil drilling in response to a five-year grassroots campaign led by directly affected residents and advocates. The City Council also called on the California Department of Geological Energy Management (CalGEM) to expedite the closure of the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility in Porter Ranch, following its massive blowout in 2015. Additionally, Culver City passed a motion to phase out oil drilling in the Inglewood Field and to clean up wells in surrounding areas within five years!
Now, the Los Angeles County board of supervisors will vote on September 15th to phase out extraction in the unincorporated areas of the county.
Take action here to call on Los Angeles County officials to follow the leadership of local municipalities and phase out oil wells in the unincorporated regions.