Senator Gonzalez & Senator Monique Limón Introduce Historic Legislation to Establish Health and Safety Buffer Zones to Protect the Most Pollution-Burdened Communities Across the State
Sacramento, Calif. – On August 25, 2022, Senator Lena A. Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) and Senator Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara) introduced historic legislation to establish health and safety buffer zones and protect the most pollution-burdened communities in the state from the dangers of oil and gas operations. California is the 7th and 14th largest oil and natural gas producer in the nation with about 125,000 oil and gas wells—many of which are located near people’s homes. Over 2.7 million Californians live within 3,200 feet of an operational oil or gas well, and of those homes, over 90% are people of color.
SB 1137 will mandate a 3,200-foot health and safety buffer zone between new and reworked oil and gas wells and sensitive land uses, which include schools, childcare centers, community resource centers, residential homes and live-in housing, and hospitals. Specifically, the bill prohibits the California Geological Energy Management Division (CalGEM) from approving the drilling, re-drilling, or significant alteration of any oil and gas well within this “health protection zone”. SB 1137 will also require oil and gas facility operators in these protection zones to implement strict pollution controls and response plans to protect the health of over 2 million Californians currently living within 3,200 feet of an existing oil well.
“Our frontline communities need this Climate Change legislation passed now," said Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach). “Too often, we have seen oil spills, gas leaks, unpleasant smells and toxic chemicals devastate our wildlife, contaminate our water and our oceans, and worst of all, seriously harm the health and wellbeing of our friends and loved ones. Oil and gas operations cause respiratory illnesses, pre-term births, high-risk pregnancies, and cancer. This is a public health crisis, and a product of longstanding environmental racism. People of color are the ones who by far, suffer the greatest consequences of this recklessness and irresponsibility, and it must end now. As this bill moves forward in the legislative process in these coming days, I ask my colleagues in the Legislature to support this bill, to do what is right, and fight for justice for our constituents.”
“This is a historic moment in California history and I am beyond grateful to lead this effort with my colleague Senator Gonzalez,” said Senator Limón (D-Santa Barbara). “For too long our dependency on the oil industry has impacted the health and safety of California families, especially our children and communities who live near oil and gas wells. This policy will not only protect Californians, it will rectify long standing injustices for the communities who have borne the brunt of our dependency on fossil fuels. As the author of AB 1057 (2019) which required the state to focus on protecting public health and the environment – not oil production – I am grateful to see that mission come to life.”
“Finally, after years of asking for an end to the racist practice of neighborhood drilling, environmental justice communities are seeing some real action on this acute public health issue. We’re ready to see the legislature follow the Governor’s lead and end the chronic crisis of neighborhood drilling in California by passing SB 1137 and confirming a 3,200ft health and safety setback zone statewide” said Kobi Naseck, Coalition Coordinator, Voices in Solidarity Against Oil in Neighborhoods.
Senator Gonzalez represents the 33rd Senate District, which includes the City of Long Beach and portions of South Los Angeles and Southeast Los Angeles including the cities of Bell, Bell Gardens, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Lakewood, Lynwood, Maywood, Paramount, Signal Hill, and South Gate. Senator Gonzalez lives in Long Beach with her family.
Monique Limón represents the 19th Senate District, which includes Santa Barbara, Ventura, Goleta, Buellton, Carpinteria, Guadalupe, Lompoc, Santa Maria, Solvang, Camarillo, Fillmore, Ojai, Oxnard, Santa Paula, and Port Hueneme. She currently serves as the Chair of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee.
VISIÓN (Voices in Solidarity Against Oil in Neighborhoods) is a coalition of environmental justice, frontline, and public health community based organizations in Kern and Los Angeles Counties that formed with the goal of ending neighborhood oil and gas drilling.