LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles City Council moved a step closer Friday to make L.A. the biggest city in the nation to approve a moratorium on a controversial oil and gas drilling practice.
In a 10-0 vote, Council members voted unanimously to prohibit hydraulic fracturing - commonly known as "fracking" - and what it deemed other "unconventional" drilling methods that energy production companies use to extract petroleum and natural gas from deeper underground.
The Council directed City Attorney Mike Feuer's office to draft an ordinance that would impose a moratorium on such activity at oil wells and fields within the city.
Councilmembers Mike Bonin and Paul Koretz introduced the proposal, which calls for city zoning code to be amended in order to prohibit hydraulic fracturing activities in L.A. until the practices can be proven to be safe.
The City Council will hold a final vote once the the zoning ordinance has been drafted.
Advocates in support of the moratorium have warned fracking could threaten to contaminate groundwater and cause earthquakes in an already seismically-active region.
"It uses excessive amounts of water in a drought, and most significantly for me is the incredible risk of devastating earthquakes," Bonin told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO.
Energy industry officials, however, have long argued that fracking is a safe method of extracting petroleum and natural gas from deep underground.
Residents like Monic Uriarte, who lives in a building in University Park owned by Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, said the vote was long overdue.
"We were getting sick from the emissions, with health symptoms including spontaneous nose bleeding, headaches, asthma, and much more," Uriarte said. "No one should live in the shadow of an oil well."
Lawmakers in the California Assembly voted in September 2013 to require that drillers disclose the chemicals they use in the process of hydraulic fracturing, which involves injecting water, sand and chemicals into deep rock formations to release oil or natural gas.
Last September, Brown signed Senate Bill 4, which he said "establishes strong environmental protections and transparency requirements" for companies involved in fracking.
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