Proponents of the bill say oil extraction near residential areas like in Kern County, California, negatively affects people's lives. Photo by Christopher Halloran/Shutterstock
Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Two Democratic lawmakers have introduced a bill to ban fracking in California by 2027 and create buffer zones around residential facilities against oil and gas extraction.
Bill 467 was introduced Wednesday by California state Sens. Scott Wiener and Monique Limon months after Gov. Gavin Newsom vowed in September to work with state lawmakers to phase out the controversial energy extraction process that pumps fluid at high pressure through fractured underground rock to release the resources.
"We have no time to waste and California must lead on climate action, including transitioning to a 100% clean energy economy," Weiner said in a statement. "Extracting massive amounts of oil -- particularly with destructive techniques such as fracking -- is totally inconsistent with California's commitment to a sustainable climate future."
The bill will cease the issuance or renewal of permits starting next year for hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, acid well stimulation treatments, cyclic steaming and water and steam flooding with a full prohibition in place by 2027.
It also creates from January a 2,500-foot ban around homes, schools and healthcare and long-term care facilities, including prisons, for oil and gas extraction over health concerns.
According to Weiner's office, nearly 7.5 million Californians live within a mile of an oil or gas well and more than 2 million within a mile of an operating well.
"Oil extraction overwhelmingly occurs near where people of color and low-income people live, causing significant negative health impacts," Wiener's office said.
The bill, which is sponsored by the Center for Race, Poverty and the Environment, directs the California Geologic Energy Management Division to identify oil and gas workers who lose their jobs to the ban and offer incentives to contractors to prioritize their hiring.
"Fracking, neighborhood drilling and other dangerous drilling practices have a real impact on the health of residents who live in Kern County and other areas of the state where drilling is prevalent," said Ingrid Brostrom, the assistant director of the Center for Race, Poverty and the Environment. "Residents are tired of being asked to sacrifice their health to help maintain the profits of a dying industry."
Rock Zierman, the chief executive officer of the California Independent Petroleum Association, rebuked the bill, questioning its legality and warning it would kill thousands of jobs and result in the importation of oil from overseas.
"Shutting down energy production under the toughest regulations on the planet will devastate the economies of oil producing regions -- especially the Central Valley -- and make the Saudi royal family even richer all while eliminating the industry that is investing in the innovation needed to significantly reduce the state's carbon footprint," the non-profit head said in a statement.