Today’s Solutions: July 06, 2022

Los Angeles is a city pockmarked with oil facilities. There are about 1,000 active wells in the city, and in some places, the oil facilities are so close to people’s homes that you can put one hand on a bedroom window and the other on the facility wall.

The oil site on Jefferson Boulevard, however, is the closest of all to residents who have been forced to get accustomed to the smell of rotten eggs and diesel fuels seeping through the windows. It sounds like an absolute nightmare, but fortunately, that nightmare is coming to a close thanks to a community-wide fight against the toxic impact of the quest for oil.

Together with the nonprofit environmental law organization EarthJustice, residents and activists submitted a 355-page petition to the city of Los Angeles in 2016, laying out why the planning department had to step up to protect the residents around the Jefferson drill site. The petition documented studies on the chemicals produced in oil extraction and reports of toxic emissions from the Jefferson Boulevard drill site. Among the chemicals discovered was hydrogen sulfide, a gas that smells like rotten eggs and can cause respiratory problems. 

Through data, permits, and research, the petition also demonstrated that while in other — richer, whiter — parts of the city, such emissions were monitored and controlled, the company was operating virtually unchecked at the Jefferson site. As a result, the Jefferson site has been shut down—a testament to the power that communities have when they rally together.

This story was one of the best from 2019, and we are happy to include it in our “12 Days of Optimism” as we get ready to welcome 2020!

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