The Board of Supervisors is looking into tightening regulations for oil and gas facilities in Los Angeles County’s unincorporated areas.
Acting on a motion by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Hilda Solis, the Board unanimously called for being proactive in ensuring that existing oil and facilities operate safely, as well as for enhancing the regulatory process for future well sites. The motion incorporated slight amendments by Supervisors Michael Antonovich, Don Knabe and Sheila Kuehl.
“We have spent far too much time reacting to environmental catastrophe after catastrophe – from the former Athens Tank Farm, to the Aliso Canyon methane leak, to the Exide Battery Recycling Facility in Vernon,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “These incidents highlight the dire environmental, economic and public health repercussions when industrial facilities are not properly operated.”
“The significant community disruption, coupled with consequential environmental impacts, provides ample justification for a proactive approach,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas added.
More than half of the 1,687 oil and gas facilities in unincorporated areas already operate under strict regulatory requirements created by the Baldwin Hills Community Standards District. At the Inglewood Oil Field, for example, the District restricts the amount of drilling allowed; monitors air quality, groundwater, noise and seismic activity; and requires emergency response protocols and monthly meetings with members of the community.
An estimated 800 facilities in unincorporated areas, however, operate with a lack of consistency in permit conditions, and under regulations that vary from project to project. The motion calls for creating a “strike team” to inventory those facilities and conduct on-site inspections and safety audits. Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said, “The objective is to ensure that these facilities are appropriately monitored and are operating in a manner that protects the health and safety of surrounding communities.”
The motion also sought to update zoning and other regulations to ensure that future well sites minimize environmental impacts and pose no danger to surrounding populations.
An initial report is expected this fall.