Fast Action! DEADLINE TODAY for last call to stop the toxic neighbors next door!

Tell Gov. Newsom that you support a 3200 foot setback between homes, schools, businesses, prisons and healthcare facilities and new & EXISTING oil and gas operations.

  • Action #1: Call Gov. Newsom
  • Action #2: Email Newsom and CalGEM at the same time with this nifty form!

Today is the LAST DAY to send public comments to California oil & gas regulators in support of 3200 foot setbacks between drilling and sensitive sites.

Action #1: Call Gov. Newsom

Minimal script for a call: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Governor Newsom and CalGEM to take the following three actions:

  • Support a 3,200-foot setback for new wells
  • Demand that the setback applies to existing wells
  • Demand an emergency response to ban all new permits within the setback until the final rule is in effect

CALL: Governor Newsom (916) 445-2841 

Action #2: Email Newsom and CalGEM at the same time with this nifty form!

EMAIL BOTH NEWSOM AND California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM): Here!

Sample script for an email: (NOTE: Mix it up and make it yours. It doesn’t have to be as long as this. Talk about your own issues of living next to these installations or that of your family and friends.)

I am writing to support a 3,200-foot setback for new wells, but also to demand that the setback applies to existing wells and that an emergency response is set in place to ban all new permits within the setback until the final rule is in effect.

People who live near oil and gas drilling sites are suffering from fossil fuel pollution-induced diseases. More and more studies link proximity to oil and gas wells to a host of harmful health impacts, including cancer, high risk pregnancies, asthma and other respiratory ailments. Now research shows that those who live in heavily polluted areas have a higher risk of severe complications from COVID-19.

Our lungs cannot differentiate between toxins generated from new wells and those that have been poisoning our communities for years. It’s critical that California applies any robust, protective health and safety zone to existing extraction sites as well as new ones. To that end, the state must prohibit all new permits within setbacks — including re-work permits that extend the life of existing wells — in order to phase out existing wells and end neighborhood drilling. Doing so will bring frontline communities one step closer to environmental justice.

Science has confirmed what our communities have long known: oil and gas drilling in our neighborhoods is poisoning us. Until this draft rule is finalized, we urge CalGEM to stop issuing permits of any kind within the 3,200-foot setback distance.

In California, low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately affected by these serious, costly health impacts. A minimum setback of 3,200-foot that encompasses both new and existing oil and gas sites will protect frontline communities, the same communities that policymakers have allowed oil companies to sacrifice in the name of profit for a hundred years.

It’s time to stand up for public health and environmental justice, especially during a devastating pandemic. In an unprecedented time, we need leadership that will match the urgency of this moment and listen to the clear messages of science and public health experts. Nobody should lose years off their life because of their zip code.

I strongly encourage CalGEM to establish highly protective rules, including setting a science-based minimum distance of 3,200 feet between drilling operations and sensitive receptors including homes, schools, businesses, prisons, and healthcare facilities to avoid serious public health and safety risks.


[First Name] [Last Name]
[Your Address]


More information

For more than two years California regulators delayed action on an urgent public health crisis: neighborhood oil and gas extraction.

This fall, Governor Gavin Newsom instructed the state entity that regulates oil and gas — the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) — to establish rules to protect public health from impacts of oil and gas extraction and create setbacks.

While this draft rule is a big first step for California — one of the only major oil producing states without any setback requirement currently in place — it does not go far enough. We need protections for those already experiencing these detrimental health impacts. The rule does virtually nothing for the more than 2 million Californians currently living within 3,200 feet of an oil well, it only protects new communities from oil and gas drilling in their neighborhoods, and it does not even completely do that.

This rule does not apply to existing drill sites without an active well on them. Meaning that if there is an existing well pad in a neighborhood that has been inactive for years, an oil developer can restart that well without concern that it is within 3,200 feet of a sensitive receptor. In the last two years, more than 600 permits have been granted for oil and gas sites in neighborhoods. Of those, more than 450 of them were located on existing drill sites. Almost all new wells in Santa Barbara are built on oil fields with existing infrastructure. Also, if existing sites are exempt from the setback rule, that would only incentivize oil developers to return to inactive well pads and restart them with enhanced oil recovery techniques, such as fracking, cyclic steam injection, and horizontal drilling which can be even more threatening to groundwater than traditional extraction methods.

CalGEM’s website claims that they “prioritize protecting public health, safety, and the environment,” yet by excluding existing wells and new wells on existing well pads from the setbacks rule, they would be doing very little towards upholding these protections.

Now relief for the more than two million Californians who live within 3,200 feet of an active oil or gas operation is in sight.

CalGEM is accepting public comments on this proposed ruling until December 21, 2021.

Science has shown that a 3,200 foot (1 kilometer) setback distance between oil and gas drilling and our homes, schools, hospitals, daycare facilities, and prisons is the bare minimum needed to protect people from the worst health outcomes of living near constant oil and gas pollution: asthma, cancers, high-risk pregnancies, and now an increased risk for a serious case of COVID-19.A majority of impacted residents live in low-income communities or are Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities — a testament to the reality of environmental racism in California today.

It’s time to meet the urgency of the climate emergency by prioritizing the frontline communities it impacts most. We need to demand commonsense health and safety setbacks, ensuring that these setbacks apply to existing oil and gas sites, and ban all new permits within the setback distance until these rules are law.

We’re entering a big fight. The oil and gas industry is going to use all the tools at its disposal — including misinformation and billions of dollars — to fight this public health rule. But what the Big Oil executives don’t have is people power. Join tens of thousands of Californians already demanding an end to neighborhood drilling in California.

Thanks for taking action,

Alexandra Nagy
California Director
Food & Water Watch

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