CSAC Bulletin Article

Proposed Rule Would Set Limits on New Construction for Oil Drilling

October 28, 2021

This week, the state released a proposed regulation that would prohibit the construction of new oil and gas wells and facilities within a 3,200-foot setback from homes, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and other sensitive locations. The proposed regulation, set forth by the Department of Conservation’s Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM), would also require pollution controls for existing wells and facilities within the same 3,200-foot setback area.

Following state rulemaking guidelines, CalGEM will now accept public comment on the draft rule for 60 days before beginning a comprehensive economic analysis of the rule. Following this analysis, CalGEM will submit the proposed rule to the Office of Administrative Law and will begin an additional process of receiving comments and refinement of the proposal as needed. Public comments can be submitted via email to CalGEMRegulations@conservation.ca.gov or by mailing comments to 801 K Street, Sacramento, California (ATTN: Public Health Regulations) by December 21, 2021. 

The rule was guided by the work of a 15-member public health expert panel selected by University of California, Berkeley and Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers (PSE) for Healthy Energy. The panel concluded that when oil and gas developments are within 3,200 feet, there is a strong connection to higher rates of adverse birth outcomes, respiratory diseases such as asthma, and heart disease, among other health impacts. The panel’s research supports both moving oil production farther away from communities in combination with pollution controls for operating wells. 

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