Los Angeles Bans Fossil Fuel Expansion within City Limits
Several cities in California have passed ordinances that ban new gas stations and prevent new developments from hooking up to the gas system. Los Angeles could be the first city to ban natural gas expansion within city limits.
During the last week of the California legislative session, the state Senate vacillated over a bill that would restrict oil and gas operations in 3,200-foot-wide areas around homes, schools, nursing homes, and other facilities. The bill was introduced to help California meet federal ozone standards and to phase out fossil fuels.
In the meantime, the city of Los Angeles is preparing a policy that will limit the number of oil and gas wells allowed to operate in the city. The City Council is set to vote on an ordinance prohibiting new oil and gas extraction activities within city limits. This ban will last three to five years after active oil and gas production cessation. During that time, the oil and gas companies will be required to undertake full responsibility for the remediation of any sites where oil and gas production has occurred. The new policy will include limits on noise and dust and require operators to install alarm systems.
According to the City of Los Angeles Office of Petroleum and Natural Gas Administration and Safety, there are approximately 5,229 active wells in the city. Most of these wells are in neighbourhoods that are predominantly people of colour. Many people in these neighbourhoods have respiratory problems, and a recent study showed that people living near wells are at higher risk for cancer, asthma, and other health problems.
In 2021, the city banned new gas and oil wells in unincorporated areas, and to prepare for the new policy, LA city council has commissioned an amortization study of existing well infrastructure. The study will help determine the prerequisites for decommissioning oil and gas operations.
If the new policy passes, oil and gas companies must pay for site remediation when a well is shut down. In addition to the requirement to pay, the new policy will require the oil and gas companies to pay for any toxic leaks and to install alarm systems. The RRC will continue to monitor seismic activity in the area.
Other cities are beginning to pass similar policies. Seattle, Chicago, and Brookline have all passed similar ordinances. The goal of the SAFE Cities movement is to phase out fossil fuels. Dozens of cities and counties around the country support the movement.
Other states have introduced preemption laws. In the 2020 cycle, laws were introduced in 19 states. Most of the laws were in the Rust Belt and the Southwest. The other states included in the group are Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New Hampshire, and Texas.