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Climate and Environment

LA County To Phase Out Oil Drilling

A group of people stand on steps in front of a government building posing for a picture. They hold signs that read "No drilling where we're living!"
Environmental justice and public health advocates celebrate the ordinance's approval.
(Courtesy of Physicians for Social Responsibility - Los Angeles)
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Topline:

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed an ordinance Tuesday to ban new oil wells and phase out drilling over the next 20 years, joining Culver City and L.A. city, which passed similar laws in 2021 and 2022, respectively. More than a million people live near thousands of oil wells scattered across unincorporated L.A. County.

Why it matters: For decades, L.A. communities near oil wells have sounded the alarm about the pollution and health impacts. In recent years, research has helped support and quantify their concerns. "It's time to have clean air," Ruth Andrade said in Spanish. She has lived near drill sites in unincorporated South L.A. for 33 years.

More context: Pollution from burning fossil fuels such as oil is the single largest cause of global heating. Climate scientists say ending fossil fuel extraction is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis.

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What's next: The ordinance goes into effect in 30 days. While it starts the process of shutting down more than 400 active wells in the county, it does not include thousands of oil wells in the Inglewood Oil Field, which is surrounded by residential communities, such as Baldwin Hills and Ladera Heights. Environmental justice advocates said they'll continue to push for the end of oil extraction there, as well.

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