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California Proposes Ban On Oil Drilling Near Neighborhoods

SACRAMENTO (CBSLA/AP) - In an effort to protect public health, Gavin Newsom and the California oil regulator have proposed a new ban on oil drilling within 3,200 feet of schools, hospitals or neighborhoods.

This new proposal would impose the largest buffer zone between oil drilling locations and public spaces in the nation. The written rules of the proposal have not yet been announced.

Part of his plan to completely end oil and gas extraction by 2045, Newsom say this is one major step that is necessary to public safety. California would join Colorado, Texas and Pennsylvania in states that have adopted a similar set of rules.

Should the rules get finalized, it would likely take more than a year for them to go into affect - sometime in 2023.

In return, the oil industry has stated that this move would raise prices and diminish reliable energy statewide. For those oil wells currently within the zones that would be within 3,200 feet, there would be stricter regulations applied to their operations. Officials hope that the regulations would be cumbersome enough for operators to shutdown the well instead of comply.

Among the new set of requirements would be an entire series of tests including: comprehensive leak detection and response plans, technology that allows for vapor recovery, water sampling and a reduction of nighttime lighting and dust.

At this point in time, more than two million Californians live within those boundaries, mostly in the greater Los Angeles area. More than a third of the wells in California are located within, 3,200 feet of a public space, accounting for nearly 32,400 wells.

These rules have been designed with public safety in mind, as the move hopes to prevent issues like asthma and pregnancy complications, and cut nuisances like noise pollution.

"Our reliance on fossil fuels has resulted in more kids getting asthma, more children born with birth defects and more communities exposed to toxic, dangerous chemicals," Newsom said in a statement on Thursday. We are committed to protecting public health, the economy and our environment as we transition to a greener future that reckons with the realities of the climate crisis we're all facing."

This announcement comes weeks after a massive oil spill off the coast of California, and a recent ban on offshore drilling in Huntington Beach.

The final report will be released once a health panel has met to discuss and analyze the results from a study on the effects of neighborhood oil drilling on health and safety.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report. City News Service contributed to this report.)


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