State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, on Wednesday announced the introduction of a bill that seeks to phase out fracking for oil in the state and would also create a buffer zone around oil extraction sites to ensure they are not near homes, schools or other community locations.
Senate Bill 467 would stop the issuance or renewal of permits for hydraulic fracturing — also known as fracking — as well as acid well stimulation and other certain oil extraction methods starting in 2022 and would prohibit those practices in 2027.
The bill, introduced in the Legislature on Tuesday, would also prohibit all new or renewed oil and gas extraction permits within 2,500 feet of homes, schools, health care facilities or long-term care institutions by 2022. The legislators recently decided to add that language to the proposed bill, and Wiener said it will be added in 30 days because of state laws regarding changes to newly introduced bills.
SB 467 would also require the creation of a program to identify oil and gas operations workers who would be affected by a transition away from fossil fuel extractions and provide training and new job opportunities for them with well remediation contractors.
Wiener, his co-author on the bill state Sen. Monique Limon, D-Santa Barbara, and advocates held a briefing Wednesday morning to discuss the importance of the bill in addressing issues like climate change and structural racism in California.
“California must lead on climate and we must reduce and eventually end our dependence on oil,” Wiener said. “We’re out of time and we need to act quickly.”
Low-income communities feel impact
He said fossil fuel extraction often takes place in areas that tend to be lower-income and communities of color, and can cause harmful health and environmental effects even without large spills, like the 1969 one off the coast of Santa Barbara that Limon noted remains the state’s largest-ever oil spill.
According to Wiener’s office, nearly 7.5 million Californians live within a mile of an oil or gas well and more than 2 million live within a mile of an operational well.
He said states like Texas and Oklahoma have buffer zones around oil extraction sites but California currently does not. The Legislature last year considered a bill proposing setbacks for those sites from residential and other public places but did not approve it.
Gov. Gavin Newsom in September signed an executive order phasing out the sale of gas-powered passenger vehicles by 2035 and committed to working with legislators on a formal phaseout of fracking this year.
Wiener and Limon said they anticipate plenty of pushback from the oil industry and other stakeholders in negotiations over the bill as it moves forward, but that public polling has shown an increase in support for actions to address climate change and the state’s reliance on fossil fuels.
“No one has the perfect plan for how we transition oil workers, we want to acknowledge that,” Wiener said. “This needs to be a communal effort.”
“We expect they will be at the table,” Limon said of the fossil fuel industry, “but perhaps not greeting us there with roses and flowers.”