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Activist group leads charge against South LA oil drilling


The recent federal decision to encourage more oil exploration has resulted in increased opposition to drilling in Los Angeles neighborhoods.

STAND-LA (Standing Together Against Neighborhood Drilling) said this week that Council President Herb Wesson plans to introduce a motion calling for a study on phasing out the practice near homes, schools, parks, churches and healthcare facilities.

Should the motion lead to a law banning the practice, it could have wide- ranging implications for the local industry, which has over 1,000 oil wells in the city and more than 580,000 residents living within a quarter mile of one.

The group said that Wesson wanted to introduce the motion at Wednesday’s City Council meeting and that some of its members will speak in support of it.

Wesson’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A spokeswoman with the California Independent Petroleum Association, a nonprofit trade association representing 500 independent crude oil and natural gas producers, did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

Residents who live near drilling sites have been speaking out in recent years and complaining of health complications they believe are connected to the oil fields.

In January, residents who live near a South L.A. drilling site on Jefferson Boulevard lined up at a city Office of Zoning Administration hearing to complain of health problems, excessive noise and pollution.

In 2015, several activist groups representing youth filed a lawsuit that said the city permitted oil wells near residential areas without conducting environmental studies required under state law and was violating anti- discriminatory practices because so many of the wells are located in minority neighborhoods.

The lawsuit, which was not seeking money, was settled in 2016 and officials agreed to implement new procedures to make sure the city complies with California Environmental Quality Act guidelines when permitting oil wells.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to help revive the coal industry and to encourage more oil exploration. His executive order seeks to suspend, rescind or flag for review measures that have placed more stringent controls on energy providers to reduce pollutants from entering the atmosphere. The new directives could mean less restrictions on methane releases at oil and gas drilling facilities, and agencies can reportedly stop contemplating climate impacts as they launch new projects.