Referendum Challenging Setbacks For New Oil Wells Qualifies for Ballot
A referendum aimed at overturning a law that prohibits new oil and gas wells near public places like schools, hospitals and businesses has been approved for the November 2024 ballot in California.
The referendum prevents SB 1137 from being implemented, which requires a minimum distance of 3,200 feet between new or modified oil and gas production wells and "sensitive receptors" such as homes, schools, childcare centers, hospitals, and nursing homes.
The law also mandates that existing wells in "health protection zones" meet certain health, safety, and environmental standards by January 1, 2025.
The referendum received the necessary signatures from 623,212 registered voters, which is 5% of the total votes cast in the November 2018 election for governor.
The California Independent Petroleum Association, a non-partisan trade group, led the signature-gathering effort and argued that SB 1137 would increase the need to import oil from countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Ecuador, thereby raising fuel prices.
Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 1137 into law on September 16, 2021, and Senator Lena A. Gonzalez, who sponsored the bill, stated that it marks a significant turning point in California's fight against climate change and environmental injustices.