ACTION: Tell CalGEM to prohibit new drilling or fracking within 2,500 feet of a home, playground, hospital or school.
The oil and gas industry is weighing in against any change in regulations so please COMMENT to CalGEM by June 10, 2020 by email or mail:
Department of Conservation, 801 K Street, MS24-02, Sacramento, CA 95814 ATTN: Public Health Oil Gas Rulemaking
(Email or letter should be directed to Mr. Uduak Joe-Ntuk, State Oil & Gas Supervisor. Be sure to sign your email or letter with your name and address or introduce yourself with this information at a public hearing.)
For decades, California’s oil industry has been allowed to drill for health-threatening fossil fuels in the center of our communities, in our backyards, on school campuses and next to our parks. Over five million Californians live within a mile of an active oil well. These people are exposed to carcinogenic chemicals, asthma attack-inducing emissions and the threat of catastrophic accidents or explosions.
California needs to immediately adopt the proposed health and safety rule that would prohibit new drilling or fracking within 2,500 feet of a home, playground, hospital or school. The current respiratory pandemic demands that adoption of this rule be accelerated. While California claims to be a climate leader it continues to allow entire communities to be sacrificed for the well-being of fossil fuel companies. Low-income communities of color have suffered disproportionately. Every day, frontline communities across California are exposed to toxic chemicals and emissions from neighboring oil wells and refineries. Recent research from Harvard’s School of Public Health has shown that people living in communities neighboring oil and gas wells are at greater risk of death from the COVID-19 virus. Their lungs have been compromised by the pollutants they breath in daily. We urge the California Geologic Energy Management Division to use this current rulemaking process to strengthen the rule. Hundreds of deserted oil wells in Los Angeles and Kern Counties exude toxic gases daily. Properly cleaning, plugging and capping abandoned wells that are located within 2500 feet of residences, schools, day care sites, parks and hospitals must be regarded as a priority during this respiratory pandemic.
BACKGROUND : The California Geologic Energy Management Agency (CalGEM) formerly known as the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources) in the California Department of Conservation is currently in the scoping phase to collect initial feedback on their Public Health and Safety Rule which would prohibit new drilling or fracking for oil or gas within 2,500 feet of a home, hospital, playground or school. Big Oil has been aggressively fighting against any changes in oil regulations. Both the California Independent Petroleum Association (CIPA) and the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) have lobbied to delay this proposed rule. They have also lobbied against enforcement of existing regulations during the pandemic including when their operations damage neighboring communities. Health assessments by the Los Angeles County Department of Health and studies on ambient air quality near oil fields by Occidental College Researchers support a 2,500′ buffer zone to help alleviate the harsh conditions of degraded air quality endured by neighboring communities. Living at a distance beyond 2,500′ from an oil and gas site does not mean one is not impacted by air and water contamination. While studies showed that health impacts increased with proximity to oil and gas, negative impacts were experienced by some communities located at distances up to 9.3 miles (Currie et al. 2017) or 10 miles (Whitworth et al. 2017) away from oil or gas wells.
You may also want to sign the Sierra Club petition here.