L.A. Controller Ron Galperin released a review this week about the more than 1,000 active or idle oil and gas wells within the City of Los Angeles. The Controller’s special review touches on three main themes: (1) Protecting Angelenos’ public safety and health, (2) Protecting taxpayers’ financial interests and (3) increasing transparency. The review lays out a plan for officials to take a more proactive, inclusive approach to inspect the 780 active and 287 idle wells while also ensuring total accountability for the 4,063 wells that are plugged and abandoned or buried. The report, recommendations and a map illustrating all oil and gas wells within the City of Los Angeles, which were provided by the California Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) database as of April 2018, can be found at www.lacontroller.org/oilandgasreview.
“We cannot wait until disaster strikes to take a more wide-ranging look at how we can protect Los Angeles and ensure total accountability for taxpayers.” L.A. Controller Ron Galperin said. “With so many active or idle wells throughout many L.A. neighborhoods, it’s vital that we do everything possible to protect Angelenos’ health and safety, the taxpayers’ financial interests and increase transparency.”
The history of Los Angeles is intertwined with the rise of oil and gas drilling as oil discoveries near present-day Dodger Stadium led to a population boom and production, by 1930, of one-quarter of the world’s oil supply. Even as production tapered off, concerns about drilling remain. Recently, the City demonstrated its commitment to improving local control of oil and gas drilling by appointing a Petroleum Administrator and creating the Office of Petroleum and Natural Gas Administration and Safety in 2016.
That appointment was a good move, but there is more officials can do to consider a more public-health focused path and take a deliberate, data rich approach to protect public safety, establish priorities and make policy decisions that reflect the unique risks associated with oil and gas drilling within our large urbanized City.
“I want to thank Controller Galperin for this comprehensive audit of the City of Los Angeles’ oil and gas drilling sites,” said Uduak-Joe Ntuk, the City’s Petroleum Administrator. “These findings and recommendations will strengthen our collective progress within the city to modernize, centralize, and provide 21st century oversight of our petroleum administration function.”
In the review, the Controller recommends a slew of changes, including:
Refining the City’s oil and gas well inspection program to enhance interdepartmental collaboration while also implementing a risk-based approach to site evaluation;
Requiring that all well operators obtain, maintain and show proof of adequate insurance coverage;
Building a centralized repository of interagency and interdepartmental information;
Requiring operators of oil and gas drilling sites to provide the City’s Office of Petroleum and Natural Gas Administration and Safety with timely information.