California Bans New Gas Stations To Fight Climate Change

Sonoma County officials questioned the clearance procedure for a new gas station without recognizing they were initiating a movement in green energy policy. This ultimately stopped future growth.

A Petaluma councilwoman who spearheaded the effort to ban new gas stations from being built in the city of 60,000 last year stated, “We didn’t know what we were doing. Gas stations were the first in the world to be prohibited, but no one realized it until now.

There are already four additional cities in the San Francisco Bay Area that have adopted Petaluca’s climate-friendly policy. Now leaders in California’s most car-dependent metropolis, Los Angeles, are pursuing the same goal.

As a new front in California’s efforts to decrease carbon emissions, the petroleum sector claims that consumers will suffer as a result of the new rules.

Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz’s environmental director, Andy Shrader, said that cities must take the lead in combating climate change. He urged that the city work toward a moratorium on new petrol stations. A hearing on the move is expected this summer, even if it hasn’t gathered traction.

While speaking at a recent conference about gas station prohibitions in California, Shrader stated, “L.A.’s massive and harmful ecological footprint helped set us on this course.” As the saying goes, “If your planet is on fire, you stop putting gasoline on it; if you have lung cancer, you stop smoking.”

Even though city officials in Petaluma hailed the new gas pump ban as “totally uncontroversial,” it’s unclear how such a policy would fare in Los Angeles, a metropolis with 65 times the population and a transit system that still heavily relies on cars. Proposed legislation in Los Angeles would be opposed by gas station lobbyists, according to lobbyists.

Although California has vowed to stop selling fossil fuel-powered vehicles by 2035, Koretz said a ban like this would better prepare the city for a future without them.

“Gas stations are a dying business,” Koretz said, citing Gov. Newsom’s goal to halt the sale of gas automobiles by 2035. “It takes years and millions of dollars to clear up their dangerous chemicals.”

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It is estimated that approximately half of the nation’s 450,000 brownfield properties are at risk of petroleum contamination due to the existence or prospective presence of old gas stations, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s proposal, which calls for the city to continue “leading the way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution,” would require city officials to draught an ordinance prohibiting any new fossil-fuel pumps in the city and requiring that “any expansions of current gas stations to be limited to serving zero-emission vehicles and providing non-fuel-related facilities.”

It would not affect the current functioning of any of the stations.

Stopping new stations and helping existing ones alter their business models is the sensible thing to do, says Koretz, because it helps preserve local entrepreneurs while also preventing a future city budget to clean up a bunch of hazardous stranded assets.

It makes sense to some people, like Karen Huh, who claims to see four gas stations at some junctions near her South Los Angeles home.

As she refilled her tank on South Vermont Avenue, the 28-year-old stated, “I think we have enough, to be honest — more than enough. As a result of the high cost of gasoline, she also said that after she pays off her SUV in the coming months, she plans to look into purchasing an electric or hybrid vehicle.

49-year-old Troy Walker said he’d like to make the switch to electric cars, too, but the rising costs have put him off. The city’s restriction on new petrol stations would not bother him, he added, because he learned about climate change in a sustainability course.

While filling his tank at a 7-Eleven newly opened on West Century Boulevard, Walker observed, “If people were more educated, they would be more conscious and would reject the new gas stations,” referring to the few new stations approved by LA in recent years.

According to information provided to The Times by Koretz’s office, the city of Los Angeles only authorized licences for one or two additional gas stations every year between 2016 and the summer of 2021. The city’s Department of Building and Safety did not immediately respond to a records request for additional information, making it unclear if any had been approved in the past year.

Walker expressed concern about the ozone layer for the sake of his children. “It’s going to have an impact on the younger generation for sure.”

Instead of stopping new petrol stations, Brian Mullins argued, local leaders should focus on increasing electric power infrastructure. Pumps have a limited lifespan, which means they must be changed at some point.

“When will you run out of gas stations?” While filling up his tank at a Westchester gas station, Mullins, 62, inquired.

Although Councilman Kevin de León seconded Koretz’s move in May 2021, the city’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee put it on hold in September without any debate. Now, city officials indicate that a full hearing is expected in August.

City records reveal that at least three neighbourhood councils voted unanimously in favour of the resolution, including the Westside Council, Silver Lake Council, Los Feliz Council and Echo Park Council. During September’s public comments, only one individual raised the issue, wondering why the city didn’t “lead by example and convert the entire city’s fleet to nonfossil fuel-burning before [officials] make life more difficult for everyone else in the city?”

West Hollywood, a neighbouring community, is also contemplating limiting the number of new gas stations. This strategy will be evaluated before legislation may be drafted by city council members in April 2021. It is expected to go through a subcommittee assessment and a full council vote before the end of the year, according to West Hollywood spokesman Sheri Lunn.

“Gas stations in Los Angeles are already oversupplied; adding a few more or fewer won’t have any effect on total prices.”

– Andy Shrader, Paul Koretz’s director of environmental affairs.

According to figures from the California Energy Commission, Los Angeles County will have just over 2,000 gas stations by 2020. In terms of city-level data, the commission does not keep track of it.

According to the California Energy Commission, L.A. County will sell nearly 2,750 million gallons of gasoline in 2020, more than any other county in the state. A total of 3,600 million gallons of gas were sold in L.A. County in 2019, according to state figures.

When Chris Huang of Los Angeles paid $20.35 for around 212 gallons of gas on June 1 in downtown Los Angeles, he looked up the price.
The Los Angeles Times’ Mel Melcon provides the following report:
Sam Bayless, the policy director for the California Fuels and Convenience Alliance, which represents gas station operators, said the alliance will continue to oppose the restrictions as other towns examine them. He is concerned about the impact of market restrictions on gas pricing and an outright ban on a city’s growth.

It’s “a disservice to the folks who are new to the neighbourhood,” Bayless said. “Not being able to serve the people who live there, who are commuting to work, picking up their kids from soccer practise… is truly a disservice.”

Due to California’s climate catastrophe, he labelled the future of gas stations a “difficult subject,” but they remain an “important service” for low- and middle-income residents because electric and other energy sources have not yet filled the void.

Leaders in the Sonoma County towns of Rohnert Park and Sebastopol, as well as the nearby towns of American Canyon and Calistoga, have not been deterred by opposition to their efforts to eliminate gas stations. Similar legislation is being developed by city officials in other California communities, as well as in New York and British Columbia, spurred by a desire to reduce the reliance on fossil-fuel-based infrastructure.

Mayor Jackie Elward of Rohnert Park remarked, “We cannot even think twice about the prohibition of the petrol station.” Because we already have so much pollution from fossil fuels, why would we want to spend money cleaning up more gas stations, when California won’t even have gas cars on the road by 2035?

In May, Richard Castro paid $164.58 at a Mobil station on 77th Street and Sepulveda Boulevard for approximately 231.2 gallons of petrol.
The Times of Al Seib / Al Seib
“Unintended repercussions” have been raised by a representative for the Western States Petroleum Assn. (WSPA), which works on behalf of the oil and gas industries.

Rather than making it easier for consumers to find fuel, Slagle predicts that bans will make it more difficult for them. Given the current situation, which is one of high demand and little supply, he asserted that “increased costs” are almost always the result of reducing the number of stations available, both new and old.

Shader called it “nonsense” the concept that prohibiting gas outlets would have any effect on fuel costs.

A few more or fewer gas stations won’t make any difference in the overall price of gasoline in Los Angeles, he said.

Environmental activists with Stand. earth, a pro-ban gas station group, claim that the laborious process of cleaning up abandoned pumps, as well as air and soil pollution, which disproportionately affects low-income communities of colour, should be sufficient reasons to prevent new stations.

Fischer, a Petaluma councilmember, stated, “The real challenge now that we’re banning new gas stations: What do we do with our old gas station sites?” Due to the amount of time and effort, it will take to clean them up.” Next up, we’ll be thinking about the future.”

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