Emmett Institute on Climate Change & the Environment

Comment Letter Supporting Buffer Around Oil and Gas Operation in Los Angeles

Sean Hecht, Benjamin Harris

CEN_EMM_PUB Comment Letter Supporting Buffer Around Oil and Gas Operation in LA
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On December 17, 2019, Sean Hecht and Benjamin Harris of the Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic submitted comments on behalf of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust to the Los Angeles City Attorney, conveying support for an ordinance establishing a health and safety buffer around oil and gas operations in the City of Los Angeles.

The authors argue that in order to protect the health of Los Angeles’ most vulnerable residents and our local environment, the City of Los Angeles should exercise its authority to implement a 2,500-foot setback for oil and gas activities. A setback ordinance establishing a health and safety buffer of 2,500 feet from sensitive receptors for oil and gas production operations is legally defensible as within the City’s authority under the California Constitution and decades of case law, and such an ordinance is unlikely to expose the City to significant liability from vested rights or takings claims.

The authors argue a recent report published by the Petroleum Administrator exaggerated the potential fiscal impact of a setback ordinance through unreasonable and incomplete assumptions, and the report failed to account for the substantial financial benefits that the City of Los Angeles would receive from the termination of industrial activities within the buffer zone.