Environment Committee Members Vote to Direct the City Attorney to Draft an Ordinance Declaring Oil and Gas Drilling a Non-Conforming Land Use Throughout Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES — Today, the Los Angeles City Council’s Environment, Climate Change, and Environmental Justice Committee voted unanimously to pass a motion directing the City Attorney to draft an ordinance declaring oil and gas extraction sites non-conforming land uses. The motion, which was introduced by Council President Nury Martinez in her last meeting as the Committee’s Chair, also advises the City Planning Department to report back on the necessary budget and staff requirements to address oil wells in residential neighborhoods, including hiring an expert to complete an amortization study.
The Committee acted on the conclusions of a recent City Attorney report confirming the City’s legal authority to take this action. At a meeting of the same committee two weeks ago, the City Attorney’s office indicated their willingness to defend such an ordinance against legal challenges from the oil industry or oil companies. The motion was seconded by Councilmembers Paul Krekoran and Paul Koretz, who signaled the Committee’s acknowledgment that oil and gas extraction is an incompatible land use in the City of Los Angeles.
The unanimous vote came after years of community organizing and advocacy from residents impacted by oil drilling and environmental justice advocates with the STAND-L.A. coalition, urging the City to protect public health by phasing out neighborhood oil drilling. Councilmembers also echoed advocates’ calls for the City to help create a just transition plan supporting fossil fuel workers in family-supporting jobs in other industries as oil wells are phased out.
The motion approved by the Committee today must now be approved by a full City Council vote.
In response to the Committee’s vote, the STAND-L.A. coalition members released the following statements:
“Today’s win is indicative of the hard work & organizing that environmental justice groups have put into this fight for the last four years. As Councilchair Nury Martinez acknowledged during today’s meeting, this has been a long and slow process, but today’s motion confirmed that it has not all been for nothing. This is a win for frontline communities, public health, and environmental justice. We thank Nury Martinez for this monumental final action as committee chair and look forward to working with the next chair in 2021 to realize this motion.” - Hugo Garcia, Esperanza Community Housing Coalition
“Black Women for Wellness commends Councilwoman Nury Martinez for her courageous work with leading the Environmental Climate Change and Environmental Justice committee to this unanimous decision on setting back oil drilling from our homes, community and children. Public health and racial justice are intimately intertwined with environmental justice and this step forward acknowledges years of community organizing to bring attention to the impacts of oil drilling on our health. South Los Angeles will breathe a bit easier but we know our work is not done. As this goes before the entire Los Angeles City Council, we will work to encourage and embolden every city council member to STAND with us, to put community over oil corporation dollars, to value health, seek just transitions and lead with courage toward an environment that sustains our future on this planet” - Robert Akil Bell, Grants Manager, Black Women for Wellness
“In the midst of a global pandemic, the action taken by Energy, Climate Change, and Environmental Justice Committee to pursue a plan to phase out oil drilling in Los Angeles is more timely than ever. The cumulative threat to public health has been made abundantly clear by the devastating and disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 to communities exposed to high levels of pollution, predominantly BIPOC, working-class families. We applaud the committee’s decision to protect constituents on the frontlines of this crisis and pave the way towards a sustainable clean energy economy that benefits workers and communities.” - Gloria Medina, Interim Executive Director, SCOPE
“The Energy, Climate Change and Environmental Justice committee showed real leadership today in acknowledging that it is time to transition away from oil extraction in Los Angeles. We want to thank Councilmembers Nury Martinez, Paul Krekorian, and Paul Koretz for advancing this motion and dispelling the misconceptions perpetuated by the oil industry about the potential economic and legal implications of declaring oil drilling a non-conforming land use. Today the long-ignored public health concerns of residents were heard: no more drilling where we are living. As a coalition that has worked on this for many years, we hope that the rest of the City Council will show the bold and courageous leadership we heard in the Committee meeting today.” - Martha Dina Argüello, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility—Los Angeles
“Today, Councilmembers Nury Martinez, Paul Krekorian, and Paul Koretz took an important step toward ending the era of toxic fossil fuel extraction in our neighborhoods. History now has its eyes on the City Council. And so do all Angelinos who want their children to grow up in a healthy and safe environment.” - Richard Parks, President of Redeemer Community Partnership
"Wilmington and other frontline communities have waited so long for the City of LA to listen to our concerns and prioritize our health. We appreciate the strong unanimous vote by the committee to pass this motion and are grateful for all the work and organizing efforts that environmental justice organizations have done for the past 5 years. We look forward to days without toxic oil drilling next to our homes, schools, and community facilities. Days with revitalized lands where our families, children, neighbors, and workers can live and work without having to sacrifice their health. Today was a big win for environmental justice communities." - Wendy Miranda, Wilmington community member and intern for Communities for A Better Environment
“Today’s unanimous vote was a major breakthrough that demonstrates the power of community organizing and persistence. We are proud supporters of STAND LA and the grassroots community groups who have been fighting to protect their neighborhoods from the harmful impacts of continued oil drilling for years. This is one of the key environmental justice issues facing Los Angeles, and we celebrate the leadership shown today by Council President Nury Martinez, Councilman Paul Koretz and Councilman Paul Krekorian. Thank you for standing with those who are most vulnerable and putting us on the path to a just and equitable transition to renewable energy, clean air and healthy communities.” - Shane Murphy Goldsmith, President & CEO, Liberty Hill Foundation