California sets rules to limit oil rigs next to homes and schools

Inglewood Oil Field, where pumpjacks nestle between people’s homes
(Photo by Gary Kavanagh)

By Dan Bacher | 

During a break between the devastating atmospheric rivers hitting California on Friday, Jan. 6, the California state oil regulator CalGEM announced that the emergency regulations to support the implementation of SB 1137 were approved by the Office of Administrative Law, filed with the Secretary of State, and made effective the same day.

All operators are required to comply with the provisions established by Senate Bill 1137 and the SB 1137 First Emergency Implementation Regulations. Failure to do so may result in enforcement action, according to CalGEM.

For more details, see:

“Environmental justice communities and everyone in California who has an oil rig for a neighbor see this development as a good sign that their government intends to enforce setbacks seriously,” said Kobi Nasceck with VISION, the coalition of environmental justice and community groups advocating for statewide setbacks separating communities from oil drilling:

“However, if the agency truly wanted to enshrine health and safety buffer zones into law once and for all, it must continue with the years-delayed full APA rulemaking process. While beneficial, an emergency rulemaking is still limited in scope, and Big Oil’s referendum against public health could qualify before the summer, putting this limited rulemaking at risk,” he stated.

After oil corporations pumped $20 million into the effort, the California Independent Petroleum Association (CIPA) announced on Dec. 12 that it has collected enough signatures to qualify a petition to undo Senate Bill (SB) 1137, a bill banning new oil drilling within 3,200 feet of sensitive sites like homes, schools, hospitals and other facilities.

”After over a decade of advocacy by frontline community leaders, the state finally passed legislation to end neighborhood oil and gas drilling,” stated Dan Ress, Staff Attorney, Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment.

“Sadly, the oil and gas industry refuses to let go of this harmful, racist strategy of sacrificing low-income communities of color for private gain, and it has spent millions of dollars harvesting signatures—often by deceitful, illegal means—in order to subvert our democracy and keep drilling without reasonable, science-driven protections for communities.

This delay will harm millions of Californians, but we look forward to the people standing against the industry’s worst excesses at the ballot box in November 2024.”

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