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End neighborhood drilling in California

Supporters Spoke up in this Action
Delivery to the California Geologic Energy Management Division

Action Ended On

December 22, 2021

What Happens Next

Thank you to all who took action! We will keep you in the loop as CalGEM continues its process to implement setbacks. We're grateful for your support.

What was at Stake

In California, it’s legal for oil companies to drill right next to homes and schools in the most densely populated areas of the state. The result has left several million Californians living in the shadow of neighborhood drilling that risks their health and pollutes their communities.

The good news is that California has proposed a new common-sense protection from neighborhood oil drilling. The California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) is considering a proposal that would require 3,200-foot buffer zones between new oil wells and homes, schools, businesses, and health care facilities throughout the state — a simple but critical step to protect Californians from the oil industry’s pollution. Tell Governor Newsom and CalGEM that you support this new regulation to protect us from harmful neighborhood oil drilling! It is vital that CalGEM also apply these regulations to existing wells that will otherwise continue to pollute communities.

5.4 million Californians live near drilling sites — many of them in low-income neighborhoods or communities of color. Proximity to oil extraction has been linked to a range of health problems, especially for pregnant women and babies. Recent scientific research shows neighborhood drilling is linked to higher rates of preterm births and low infant birth weights, which increases rates of infant mortality and respiratory diseases. Neighborhood drilling is also linked to heart and lung problems.

Setbacks won’t negate the need to phase out fossil fuels entirely — we will continue that work with vigor, but we cannot continue to allow the oil industry to poison Californians while we clean up our transportation pollution and transform California’s electricity grid. Even in a state that saw the sun blotted out by climate change-fueled wildfire smoke, the oil industry’s grip on our politics remains strong enough to weaken new legislation and policies that undermine the industry’s power and profit potential. We need to gather our collective strength. Tell Governor Newsom and CalGEM that you support their efforts to end neighborhood oil drilling!

Active oil wells and derricks feature prominently in Signal Hill, a suburb of Long Beach, Calif. Many are in residential areas and commercial parking lots.
Tara Pixley for Earthjustice

Active oil wells and derricks feature prominently in Signal Hill, a suburb of Long Beach, Calif. Many are in residential areas and commercial parking lots.

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You level the playing field.

Elected officials pay attention when they see that we are paying attention.

They may be hearing from industry lobbyists left and right, but hearing the stories of their constituents — that’s your power.

Our legislators serve at the pleasure of the people who gave them their job — you. When you contact your elected official, you’re putting a face and a name on an issue. Whether or not you voted for them, they work for you, for the duration of their term.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. (Find your local, state, and federal elected officials.)

Your action is with us in court.

If a federal agency finalizes a harmful action, the record of public comments provides a basis for bringing them into court.

Throughout each of the public comment periods we alert you to, Earthjustice’s attorneys are researching and writing in-depth, technical comments to submit — detailing how the regulation could and should be stronger to protect the environment, our communities, and our planet.

We need you to join us — your specific experiences, knowledge, and voice are crucial to add to the Administrative Record through the comment periods.

Lawsuits we file that challenge weak or harmful federal regulations rely on what was submitted during the comment period. The court can only look at documents that are in the Administrative Record — including the public comments — to decide if the agency did something improper.

Your actions aid our litigation. Taking action and submitting comments during a comment period is substantively important.

It’s the law.

Federal agencies must pause what they’re doing and ask for — and consider — your comment.

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Regulations essentially describe how federal agencies will carry out laws — including decisions that could undermine science, or weaken safeguards on public health.

Public comments are collected at various points throughout the federal government’s rulemaking process, including when a regulation is proposed and finalized. (Learn more about the rulemaking process.) These comments become part of the official, legal public record — the “Administrative Record.”

When the public responds with a huge outpouring of support for environmental protections, these individual messages collectively undercut politicians' attempts to claim otherwise.

What this means is each of us can take a role in shaping the rules our government creates — and ensuring those rules are fair and effective.