Los Angeles Sued Over Oil Well Hazards Faced By Minorities


Poor, predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods in Los Angeles bear a disproportionate brunt of environmental hazards and noise pollution from oil drilling due to a city regulatory system applied in a discriminatory fashion, activists said in a lawsuit filed on Friday.

The lawsuit accuses the city government of permitting oil companies to drill hundreds of wells near residential areas without conducting environmental studies required under state law to assess public health risks posed by energy development.

The bulk of those drilling operations have ended up concentrated in and around low-income minority areas of South Los Angeles and the city's industry-heavy community of Wilmington, according to the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, stricter enforcement of environmental rules in more affluent districts, even where oil fields are present, has largely shielded wealthier communities from the impacts of fossil fuel extraction, the lawsuit said.

The 42-page complaint was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court by several groups, including Youth for Environmental Justice and the South Central Youth Leadership Coalition. No companies were named in the lawsuit.

The fossil fuel industry has a long history in Los Angeles, but the full extent of oil extraction in the nation's second-most populous city is unknown because of poor record-keeping, said Maya Golden-Krasner, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, another plaintiff in the suit.

A scientific report released this year found more than 30,000 Los Angeles-area residents live within 300 feet of an oil well, a center spokesman said.

Representatives for Mayor Eric Garcetti declined immediate comment.

Although more people are exposed to the environmental effects of oil fields in Los Angeles than in any other U.S. metropolitan area, the impacts are not distributed equitably, the lawsuit says.

For instance, the city allows loud, high-polluting diesel-powered rigs at oil wells in South Los Angeles and Wilmington, while requiring cleaner-running electric rigs in wealthier, largely white areas on its Westside, according to the lawsuit.

The complaint also says the city requires more soundproofing at Westside drill sites than elsewhere.

Residents near Wilmington oil field where one company operates 540 wells describe life there as horrendous, Golden-Krasner said.

"They can't sleep, they have respiratory problems, they have rashes and burning eyes, and so it's really difficult for people who live nearby, particularly in the black and Latino areas where they have less protective conditions," she said.

The suit identified 12 drill sites where the plaintiffs said city officials exempted the projects from review under the California Environmental Quality Act.

The case is Youth For Environmental Justice v. City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Superior Court, No. BC600373.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Steve Gorman) Photo credit: Paul Lowry/Flickr

Dad Receives Coded Text Message From Son, Rushes To Help Him

In the middle of the night, West Virginia father Bert Fulks received a text message with only the letter "X" from his teenage son. Immediately, he sprung into action, calling his son to tell him that he will be there in five minutes to pick him up.

Teen Hit With Major Drug Trafficking Charges Let Off; Guess Who Her Dad Is

A woman arrested on drug possession and trafficking charges may be the daughter of a Drug Enforcement Agency office.

Doctors Issue Warning About One Of America's Most Popular Foods; If You Eat It, Stop ASAP

An experiment performed by a doctor in Massachusetts has people questioning whether they will ever eat instant noodles again.

School Claims Braless Senior's Shirt Is See-Through, But She Disagrees; You Decide (Photos)

Students at Helena High School in Montana have backed the right of a female senior student not to wear a bra.

Mother Almost Loses Legs As They Rot From Common Habit Most Women Have

A mother spoke out after almost losing her legs from a deadly infection caused by shaving her groin (WARNING: graphic photos below).