City Council Vote Brings Los Angeles One Step Closer To Banning Fracking

CREDIT: AP Photo/Beck Diefenbach

In this Sept. 13, 2013 file photo, environmental demonstrators in Oakland, Calif., protest California Gov. Jerry Brown's position on natural gas fracking.

A Los Angeles City Council committee has given the green light to a measure paving the way to prohibit hydraulic fracturing in the city, according to a report in the LA Times.

The Planning and Land Use Management Committee’s Tuesday decision effectively means that the entire City Council will vote on Friday on whether to draft new rules that would ban fracking and other types of “well stimulation” across the city until they’re sure the practice is safe. The decision to move forward on the rules drew cheers and applause from a packed auditorium, the LA Times said.

“We can’t allow the safety of our neighborhoods that we represent to be jeopardized by dangerous drilling,” Los Angeles Councilman Mike Bonin said, noting fracking should not be allowed in Los Angeles until all public health, seismic, and water risks are assessed.

The city council’s measure comes at a time of drought emergency across California, which has prompted some lawmakers to push for a statewide moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. Fracking relies heavily on groundwater by injecting a mixture of chemicals and water into rock formations to release oil and gas deposits. A recent Ceres report found that 96 percent of California fracking wells are located in the areas experiencing drought and high water stress.

If passed, the city council’s measure would only effect Los Angeles, not the entire state — a controversial tactic that other cities across America have attempted to use. In November, four Colorado towns passed ballot initiatives that either banned or put moratoria on hydraulic fracturing. The Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) quickly filed suit over two of the bans, however, arguing that only the state has the authority to ban drilling, and that communities can’t decide for themselves. Meanwhile, organizers there are working on a ballot initiative that would ensure local governments have the right to ban drilling.

If Los Angeles were to press forward with a ban on fracking, it would be the first California city that produces oil to do so.