California regulator proposes ban on oil drilling near schools, hospitals, homes

California regulator proposes ban on oil drilling near schools, hospitals, homes
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A California regulator proposed a statewide ban Thursday on oil and gas drilling within 3,200 feet of schools, homes, and hospitals in order to protect public health, The Associated Press reported. 

It's the latest effort from the administration of California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomNewsom pledges increased spending on busting retail crime rings The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks up bright side beneath omicron's cloud Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Shipwreck sends waste thousands of miles MORE (D) to slow down oil production in the state, joining the fight with environmental advocates to curb climate change. 

According to studies, people that live near drilling sites can have higher risks of birth defects, cancer, respiratory problems, and other health issues.

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More than 2 million Californians, primarily those in low-income and minority communities in Los Angeles County and the Central Valley, live within 3,200 feet of oil drilling sites, according to the AP. 

The proposed plan will not ban wells that are already operating in those zones but will add new pollution controls. 

“This is about public health, public safety, clean air, clean water — this is about our kids and our grandkids and our future,” Newsom said. “A greener, cleaner, brighter, more resilient future is in our grasp and this is a commitment to advance that cause.”

“Oil and gas companies have been treating our communities as sacrifice zones for over a century,” Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment community organizer Juan Flores said in a statement to the newswire. “Frontline community members have spoken in a clear voice, demanding an end to neighborhood drilling.”

This will be the first time California’s government has set statewide rules on oil drilling near homes, schools, and other sites.  

Other states such as Colorado, Pennsylvania, and  Texas have established rules on how close oil drilling can happen to certain properties.

The Western States Petroleum Association President Catherine Reheis-Boyd said in a statement that the proposed ban is an “activist assault on California’s way of life, economy and people,” the AP reported. 

The rules, which are now a draft, could change and won’t take effect until 2023, the AP noted.