Los Angeles could become the first major city in the country to ban the construction of new gas stations because of the climate crisis.
The move was announced by Los Angeles city council member Paul Koretz, who is drafting the policy. If approved, the measure will ensure that there will be no additions to the nearly 600 gas stations already in the county. “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,” Koretz said in a press release. “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.”
Los Angeles is not the first city to consider this ban. Petaluma, a small city 40 miles north of San Francisco, implemented a ban on new gas stations last year. “The actual motivation for this was — and is — our climate emergency resolution and the fact that we’re really trying to shift the needle in our town,” Petaluma Mayor Teresa Barrett told the LA Times in March 2021 when the ban was first announced.
The new proposal has a degree of added urgency. Gas prices are soaring to record highs, and the spike in price has actually been a challenge for gas station owners. According to the National Association of Convenience Stores, "the average fuel retailer today makes about 10-15 cents per gallon selling gas."
The proposal comes amid a flurry of activity in recent years to bring about more widespread adoption of electric vehicles. Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order in 2020 that requires all new cars and passenger trucks sold in California to be zero-emission vehicles by 2035. More recently, the Biden administration set a national target of having 50% of all new auto sales being EVs by 2030. It has also begun to dole out money and roll out standards for a 500,000-strong EV charging network across the country.
A recent forecast from BCG found that up to 68% of new vehicles could be battery-electric by 2035. Though more bullish than other analyses, the BCG forecast shows why new gas stations aren't only a risk to the climate. They could be a risk to owners, who could be left holding stranded assets as the EV revolution takes off full steam. It's also a reminder policymakers will need to figure out what to do for existing gas station owners and workers as their customer base shrinks in the coming decades.