A pump jack does its work at an oil field in Kern County. Photo by Frank Lopez

published on August 26, 2022 - 2:24 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

In the waning days of the legislative session in Sacramento, the California Chamber of Commerce (CalChamber) has added a pair of bills to its “job killer” list.

One regulates the operation of oil wells and the other accelerates the state’s goals toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Both were amended just ahead of next week’s deadline to pass legislation.

SB 1137 by Sen. Lena A. Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) establishes a 3,200-foot minimum setback to prohibit oil and gas activities within a specified proximity of homes, schools and parks.

The bill would specifically prohibit the California Geological Energy management Division (CalGEM) from approving drilling, re-drilling, or significantly altering any oil and gas well within these “health protection” zones.

The bill would also require well operators to implement pollution controls, leak detection and response plans, and to provide information about their operations publicly online.

In its opposition to the bill, the CalChamber said SB 1137 undermines the governor’s own three-year process to enact rules for health and safety around oil and gas extraction facilities.

According to the CalChamber, an economic analysis finds that SB 1137 places approximately 8,000 jobs in oil, gas, construction, trade and supplying industries at risk.

“The approach offered in SB 1137 will do nothing to reduce California’s oil and gas energy demands,” said CalChamber President and CEO Jennifer Barrera. “Instead, it will drive production out of California and force the state to rely on even more foreign oil imports that are produced in locations with less environmental protections than California.”

The other bill, AB 2133 by Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), was gutted and amended Tuesday to require statewide greenhouse gas emissions be reduced to at least 55% below the 1990 level by Dec. 31, 2030, according to the CalChamber.

The state’s current goal is 40% reduction.

The CalChamber said the measure will lead to excessive costs for residents and businesses.

“At a time when Californians are suffering from high prices and the threat of a recession looms, increasing costs is the wrong approach to take,” Barrera said. “Rushed consideration of this proposal robs everyone of the chance for thoughtful consideration about costs and consequences.”

The more aggressive greenhouse gas reduction target was part of a sweeping set of climate proposals Gov. Newsom announced Aug. 12. 

Opponents to the package said there isn’t enough time to discuss them before the Aug. 31 end of the legislative session.

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