Santa Barbara’s State Senator Monique Limón is taking another swing at regulating the distance between oil and gas wells and schools, homes, hospitals, and other community centers. A 3,200-foot distance was proposed by Governor Gavin Newsom in his June climate proposals, indicating he would sign the bill if it passed the Legislature, said Limón and her co-sponsor, Senator Lena Gonzalez (D–Long Beach). The State Legislature passed the bill on Wednesday, August 31.
Limón had written a similar bill in 2021 proposing a 2,500-foot setback, as well as a ban on new fracking, cyclic steaming, and well acidizing. It failed in committee by two Democratic votes — those two, Ben Hueso of San Diego and Bob Hertzberg of Van Nuys, are now being pressured by ads to support the bill, according to Politico.
This time around, Limón has the governor’s backing for Senate Bill 1137, which would prohibit state agencies from allowing well drilling or changes to oil and gas production in the 3,200-foot zone. The pollution coming from the 125,000 oil and gas wells in the state affect 2.7 million people, 90 percent of whom are people of color. “This policy will not only protect Californians,” Limón said, “but it will rectify long-standing injustices for the communities that have borne the brunt of our dependency on fossil fuels.”
While the bill gained immediate support from environmental organizations, it also met immediate opposition from the California Chamber of Commerce. The chamber argued the bill would kill jobs in the oil and gas industry, which employed 3,000 people across 15,000 active and inactive wells within 3,200 feet of homes.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), however, expressed itself to be pleased with the end-of-term “frantic sausage-making” that produced Newsom’s 3,200-foot proposal. The NRDC blogged that SB 1137 included reworking existing wells, which make up the majority of the oil and gas work in California, and would protect residents currently affected by oil infrastructure.