New Poll Shows Widespread Support for A Citywide Prohibition on Oil Extraction within 1500 Ft of Homes, Schools, and Hospitals
The poll, which was conducted by the polling firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, asked respondents, “does [a] proposal to limit oil extraction in the City of Los Angeles to areas at least 1500 feet away from homes, schools, and hospitals sound like something you would support or oppose?”
Across all divisions of race, age, gender, income, or education level, Angelenos agree that ending oil drilling in neighborhoods is a common-sense solution. The poll had strongest support among people of color (76%) and low-income voters (81%), the two communities who are disproportionally impacted by neighborhood drilling.
In Los Angeles, home to the country’s largest urban oil field, over 580,000 Angelenos live within five blocks of an active oil or gas well. In some cases, oil and gas wells are located just 30 feet from occupied homes. Over 91% of people who live within a quarter mile of an active oil or gas wells are people of color.
“I continue to be amazed at how oil and gas operations receive more consideration and protection from our elected officials than the residents who live around them,” said Pastor Kelvin Sauls of the Holman United Methodist Church, located near the Murphy drill site in West Adams. “Neighborhood drilling remains a contradiction to the vision that city officials proclaim for all Angelenos—regardless of the color or their skin or the size of their income.”
When asked to explain why they support such a policy in their own words, 79% of respondents said that it was necessary to protect the health or safety of those living near urban oil sites. Community groups that have been living with drilling in their neighborhoods were not surprised by the overwhelming support for a protective buffer.
“The widespread popularity of this policy proposal supports what we have been saying—that oil extraction should not be happening in anyone’s backyard,” said Sandy Navarro of People Not Pozos. “We know that the fumes released during oil and gas extraction cause headaches, upper respiratory illness, nausea, nosebleeds and a possible increase in cancer risk. There is absolutely no reason why these sites should be allowed to operate in densely populated residential neighborhoods.”
The recent Porter Ranch disaster was also top-of-mind with respondents. Eighty-two percent of people said they were somewhat or very concerned that the chemicals being leaked from oil and gas wells all over the city are similar, if not more dangerous, than the gas that was flooding out of the ruptured well in Porter Ranch.
“Angelenos are living atop a very old network of oil and gas pipelines, through which oil companies have regularly pumped highly corrosive acids and chemicals for decades,” said Niki Wong, a community organizer with Redeemer Community Partnership. “Those of us who live near one of these oil and gas operations are just one accident away from another disaster. We can’t wait around to become the next Porter Ranch.”
Curt Below, Senior Vice President at FM3, emphasized just how strong these results are. “It’s very rare to see such strong public support around this kind of policy, especially across demographic and ideological lines. Every subset of Angelenos that we tested showed majority support for a 1500 ft. health and safety buffer, even after presented with a list of potential downsides to the the proposal.”