Over 1,600 active oil and gas wells in Los Angeles County would soon be phased out after board of supervisors garnered 5-0 vote on ban of oil and gas drilling on the most populous county in the United States.
“The goal is to provide direction to county departments to begin addressing the variety of issues, environmental and climate impacts created by these active and inactive oil and gas wells,” said Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell, representative in the district of the 18th-largest oil field in the state, Inglewood Oil Field.
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An Oil and Gas drilling rig, operating in Angola, is seen in the waters outside Walvis Bay for maintanance on June 24, 2017 in Walvis Bay, Namibia.
While the board is yet to determine a timetable to legally implement phaseout, one among the other active gas wells that joins ban is the Inglewood Oil Field, owned and operated by Sentinel Peak Resources.
The oil field contains over half the oil and gas wells in the county’s unincorporated areas, producing 2.5 million to 3.1 million barrels of oil annually over the past ten years.
Mitchell, along with Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, made the motion to shut down drilling in the county’s unincorporated areas.
Downside to the county’s economy
CEO Rock Zierman of the California Independent Petroleum Association opposed the motion to phase out of oil and gas production and said that hundreds will lose their jobs as a result. In addition, this will raise gas prices and make the region dependent to foreign countries in terms of oil production.
The association represents nearly 400 oil and gas industry entities in the state of California.
Since the late 1890s, oil companies have been drilling for in Los Angeles, making the state quickly become a hub for oil production in the state. Oil was found in Baldwin Hills in 1924 before several Black communities moved in the area adjacent to Inglewood Oil Field, including other communities.
Inglewood caused a leak of more than 1,600 gallons of oil in April, and also impacted health and local environment for at least a decade. Phaseout supporters say the shutdown will move the region closer to environmental equity.
“There are tens of thousands of people who live in very close proximity to oil wells, 73% of whom are people of color,” Mitchell said in an interview before voting. “So, for me, it really is an equity issue.”
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A decade-long oil-field related issues
“I think the writing is on the wall and hopefully there is this sense that something good has to be done with this land,” said Sonya Vasquez of the Los Angeles-based non profit Community Health Councils who works with Baldwin Hills residents. “We’re in this era where we shouldn’t be relying so much on fossil fuel.”
Supporters envision that the Inglewood Field be turned and expanded into Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area.
Moreover, Supervisor Mitchell calls for oil companies and other community stakeholders to explore other uses for their privately owned land. “My goal is complete, comprehensive (cleanup of the site), with the oil companies paying for it, not taxpayers.”
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