In an attempt to curb local emissions, some in Los Angeles hope to ban the construction of new gas stations in the city.
“We are ending oil drilling in Los Angeles. We are moving to all-electric new construction. And we are building toward fossil fuel-free transportation,” L.A. Councilman Paul Koretz, said in a press release about the proposed ban. “Our great and influential city, which grew up around the automobile, is the perfect place to figure out how to move off the gas-powered car.”
Koretz is currently drafting policy that would ban new gas stations from being built and hopes that the policy will be introduced sometime this year. Similar policies are being explored in the California cities of Windsor and Santa Rosa.
If this plan is successful, L.A. would become the largest city in the country to ban the construction of new gas stations, the Guardian reported. Environmental justice nonprofit Stand.Earth said in a press release that the gas station ban would not only help lower emissions, it would also improve public health outcomes, since the presence of gas stations is connected to high levels of cancer-causing emissions. These stations are also responsible for longterm contamination—there are more than 400,000 brownfield sites across the country, and, according to the EPA, about half of them have been contaminated by petroleum that has come from leaky tanks from old gas stations.
No new gas stations could be great for air quality in the city of angels, but Los Angeles seems to really love its cars. Despite being the second largest city in the country, more than 70% of the city’s population drives to work, while 6.8% get to work via public transportation regularly. (In the Chicago metro area, 12.3% commute via public transit, while in NYC, over 30% do, Bloomberg’s CityLab reported in 2019.)
L.A. officials that currently support the move were inspired by Petaluma, California’s 2021 ban on building new gas stations. And it’s not just California: Earlier this month, Bethlehem, New York announced efforts to prohibit the construction of new gas stations, the Times Union reported. Like elected officials in Los Angeles, those in Bethlehem cited environmental concerns. The town plans to transition to more charging stations for electric vehicles.
“We know that clean, renewable energy is the right move for our local economy, our long-term sustainability, and the future of our planet,” Maureen Cunningham, a town board member for Bethlehem, said in a statement. “Prohibiting new gas stations is one of many forward-thinking solutions we as a community need to act on now.”