California passed a law prohibiting oil companies from drilling within two-thirds of a mile of schools, homes, and hospitals. Big Oil fought back, and now the issue is heading to your November 2024 ballot.
We woke to news East Bay residents of the city of Martinez last night were protesting the toxic emissions of the routinely malfunctioning nearby Martinez Refining Company. Well, there was more news Thursday morning about the oil industry hoping to keep their business that sickens nearby residents as close to your home as possible, as CalMatters reports that the oil industry is sponsoring a ballot measure to keep oil drilling close to homes, schools, and hospitals.
The California legislature actually passed a 2022 law called SB 1127 that prohibits oil companies from drilling within 3,200 feet (about two-thirds of a mile) of schools, homes, and hospitals. But the oil industry quickly got that bill’s implementation delayed, with their ballot measure hoping to overturn it. The law remains suspended, and will appear on your November 2024 ballot.
Governor Gavin Newsom was not pleased. “Greedy oil companies know that drilling results in more kids getting asthma, more children born with birth defects, and more communities exposed to toxic, dangerous chemicals,” he said in a statement to California Public Radio when the oil companies’ referendum got the signatures. “But they would rather put our health at risk than sacrifice a single cent of their billions in profits.”
For their part, the oil companies claim this drilling near schools and hospitals will keep oil prices in check.
"This referendum will allow California voters to better control the prices they pay at the pump by removing barriers to boost the supply of our homegrown oil production," California Independent Petroleum Association CEO Rock Zierman said when they started gathering signatures in 2022. "Governor Gavin Newsom may say he is going after energy companies, but in reality, he is going after the high-paying careers of over 50,000 hardworking Californians on the heels of more than two years of COVID-19 related economic turmoil and a looming recession.”
Well, that recession never came. But yes, Big Oil managed to get 978,000 signatures to get the measure on the ballot. Which may sound like grassroots support, but according to Cal Matters, they had to spend $20 million to get those signatures.
Helping to lead the opposition to the ballot measure is none other than Jane Fonda, who tells Cal Matters that the oil industry's move is "an egregious attack on democracy."
You can likely expect to see plenty of Fonda on TV ads for the No campaign next year.
Image: Oil pumps extracting crude at sunset. Oil drill and pump jack in oilfield. (Getty Images)