Return to the Latest For Immediate Release: Feb 13, 2024

Campaign for a Safe and Healthy California Points to Oil Spill in front of Elementary School in Bakersfield as Another Reason to KEEP THE LAW Preventing Toxic Drilling in Neighborhoods

SACRAMENTO – Last week, ABC 23 Bakersfield reported that a burst pipe in front of Buena Vista elementary school sent crude oil into the intersection where parents typically pick up their children from school. Investigations are still taking place to determine who controls the oil and what caused the spill, but reports say that up to 10 barrels of oil may have been released in the spill. 

The Campaign for a Safe and Healthy California points to this latest spill as evidence of why Californians need to KEEP THE LAW protecting California neighborhoods from toxic oil and gas drilling. 

“Time and again oil spills threaten the health and safety of our communities, this time in front of an elementary school,” said Cesar Aguirre, Associate Director of Climate Justice Team, Central California Environmental Justice Network. This is just another tragic example of why it’s critically important to let voters know how important it is to KEEP THE LAW protecting communities from toxic oil drilling near schools, hospitals and neighborhoods. Voters will have a chance to vote on this in November, and they need to understand that lives are at stake.”

Today, more than 2.7 million Californians are exposed to toxic emissions that cause birth defects, respiratory illnesses and cancer. Most are low-income communities and people of color, who are disproportionately harmed by neighborhood drilling. Nearly 30,000 oil and gas wells in California sit within 3,200 feet of homes, schools, hospitals and other public areas. An independent scientific advisory panel in 2021 advised California officials that a 3,200-foot setback between oil wells and sensitive receptors is the minimum distance to protect public health.  

Big Oil has been working to repeal a law (SB 1137) that would make existing oil and gas wells safer by meeting tighter health and environmental requirements within 3,200 feet of neighborhoods, schools, daycare centers and healthcare facilities, and keeping new wells from being built in these areas. To try and overturn this public safety law, oil companies have placed a deceptive measure on the November 2024 ballot. 

“KEEP THE LAW” Campaign endorsers include public health groups, community and faith organizations, and environmental justice leaders from across California, working to hold oil companies accountable for creating a public health crisis, especially for communities of color.

Press Contact:

Robin Swanson, or Nicolette Velazquez,