Culver City votes to phase out oil drilling


The Pumpjacks loom in the two-square-mile Inglewood Oilfield in Culver City and Baldwin Hills, the nation’s largest urban oilfield.

Culver City Council voted 4-1 last Thursday night to phase out oil drilling in its part of the Inglewood oil field. This vote was a bold and unprecedented step that residents and advocates have pushed for for many years.

The phasing out of oil drilling operations on the Inglewood field is a welcome step for many reasons. Oil production in this particular area has already been declining for many years. But many wells remain active, and we have known for some time that studies have linked proximity to oil wells to a host of serious health issues, including asthma and respiratory problems, premature births and other unfavorable birth outcomes, and some forms of cancer. .

The phase-out approach is also a long-awaited example of environmental justice in action, where Culver City proactively tackles and begins to reverse decades of harmful and racist land use policies that have driven communities BIPOC to bear the brunt of pollution from oil wells. Phasing out drilling also has the potential to create jobs on the roads, hopefully for residents of the local community, to cover oil wells and clean up oil well sites.

Frankly speaking, this is the boldest move ever by an oil producing jurisdiction to move away from dirty fossil fuels and move towards a clean energy future. Yet the way Culver City proceeded with the regulation of its portion of the oilfield was not reckless or impulsive – on the contrary, the Approaching the city for years was methodical, thorough, legally sound and based on the best data and science available.

Culver City’s pioneering action is the latest in a growing trend for cities, counties and even the state of California to rethink the status quo of ever-expanding oil production. Two Los Angeles City Council committees have now approved a movement which would explore the city’s phase-out of oil drilling, which would affect hundreds of wells across Los Angeles. Ventura County adopted ‘buffer zones’ known as setbacks in September which banned oil production within 1,500 feet of homes and within 2,500 feet of schools. And the state oil and gas regulator is update its rules potentially include a similar buffer zone that would apply statewide.

Perhaps more importantly, none of this advancement would happen without the strong and persistent calls for change from frontline community members who have led the fight against neighborhood oil drilling for years. Culver City leaders have listened intently to community concerns and are taking decisive action to protect the health, safety and well-being of residents and workers.

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