Governor Gavin Newsom’s (D-CA) administration would ban new oil drilling within 3,200 feet of schools, homes, and other “sensitive” community locations under a proposed regulation revealed on Thursday.
Community locations include homes and apartments, grade schools and preschools, daycares, businesses, and health care facilities like nursing homes and hospitals.
This proposal is the latest component of Newsom’s scheme to phase out all oil extraction in the state by 2045. Newsom previously signed executive orders to phase out the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035 and the sale of gas-powered lawnmowers.
Under the proposal, drillers must retrofit wells currently existing within the 3,200-foot setback area to minimize pollution with the intent of reducing oil drilling’s harmful effects. California Environmental Protection Secretary Jared Blumenfeld said the proposed rule will send a signal to existing drillers that “they’re going to have to invest a significant amount of time, money and attention in order to get into compliance.”
“Extracting oil is a dirty business, and it’s had a real impact on Californians,” Blumenfeld said. “Often we frame it as it’s about air pollution, it’s about climate change; this is really about helping communities and community health near these facilities.”
According to CBS San Francisco, “studies show living near a drilling site can elevate risks of birth defects, cancer, respiratory problems and other health issues.”
“Our reliance on fossil fuels has resulted in more kids getting asthma, more children born with birth defects, and more communities exposed to toxic, dangerous chemicals,” Newsom said in a statement on Thursday.
Newsom said that more than two million Californians live within 3,200 feet of oil drilling sites.
These rules would be California’s first statewide regulations on how close drilling can be to certain areas if approved. California would join other gas-producing states like Texas, Pennsylvania, and Colorado that have rules about how close oil wells can be to these locations. California’s proposed 3,200 feet is 1,200 feet more than Colorado’s 2000 foot setback, which is the nation’s strictest rule. In addition, the 3,200-foot proposal goes 700 feet further than the 2,500-foot buffer sought by environmental groups.
The Western States Petroleum Association’s president, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, attacked the plan as an “activist assault on California’s way of life, economy and people” in a statement. Reheis-Boyd further added the rule “could lead to increased costs and reduce the reliability of our energy supply.”
The proposal comes in the wake of a 25,000-gallon oil spill that occurred off the coast of southern California that harmed wildlife and covered beaches in oil.