Los Angeles is the largest and most densely populated urban oil field in the nation. In recent years, with easy-to-access oil deposits largely tapped out, “extreme” energy extraction technologies and methods that use thousands of pounds of toxic chemicals for well-stimulation are being used across the region—many of them in densely populated, urban neighborhoods. The City of LA hosts more than 900 active oil wells, with over 77% located within 2,500 feet of a home or sensitive land use such as a school, park, or hospital.
More than half of the new and active wells are in low-income Latino and African-American neighborhoods already overburdened by environmental hazards, such as Wilmington and South Los Angeles. Residents from these neighborhoods have documented serious health problems—including nosebleeds, increased asthma, dizziness and heart palpitations—in addition to daily disruption from drilling vibrations, diesel truck traffic, and cracked sidewalks and home foundations. In addition, oil drilling operations contribute to climate change due to leaking methane and other emissions.
Stand Together Against Neighborhood Drilling Los Angeles (STAND-LA) is a coalition of community-based and advocacy organizations working to prohibit urban oil drilling in close proximity to sensitive land uses and to support environmental justice (EJ) neighborhoods to restrict and shut down local drill sites by highlighting negative health, safety, and climate impacts. STAND-LA is dedicated to winning a prohibition of future and current oil drilling within a 2,500-foot radius (or “buffer zone”) of sensitive land use.
Recently, thanks to the tireless hard work of LDF partners STAND LA and Liberty Hill Foundation, city council president Herb Wesson introduced a motion calling for a study of what it would take to shut down all oil and gas wells near homes, schools, hospitals, parks and other public places. Wesson’s study will look at the feasibility of creating a buffer zone, or setback, around places where people live and gather. Inside the buffer zone, no oil development and production would be allowed.