Return to the Latest For Immediate Release: Jul 26, 2023

Campaign Formed to Protect Californians from Toxic Neighborhood Oil Drilling

SACRAMENTO – Today the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy California (CSHC), representing public health groups, community and faith organizations, and environmental justice leaders from across California, announced they have formed a committee to stand up to the deceptive referendum campaign being run by the oil and gas industry. CSHC said they will make sure voters know the truth about toxic neighborhood oil and gas drilling.

Big Oil companies are trying to overturn a 2022 law (SB 1137) passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom. The oil industry has already spent more than $20 million on a deceptive referendum campaign that is under investigation for lying to voters.

CSHC will run a public information campaign to get the truth out to voters about the common-sense public health law that keeps toxic oil wells a safe distance from homes, schools, day care centers, parks, healthcare facilities, and businesses. It will also require that existing wells meet more health, safety, and environmental requirements.

“Doctors, nurses, and public health professionals are concerned about the health risks of living near oil and gas operations. There is mounting evidence that living near these facilities increases the incidences of diseases like asthma, cancer and reproductive harm,” said Dr. Marjaneh Moini, MD, radiation/oncology. “We cannot continue to force Californians to pay the ultimate price to the oil and gas industry - their health. Living near these sites is inherently harmful particularly for the elderly, children and theimmunocompromised. Our measure will save lives.”

Living near an oil well increases the risk of asthma, birth defects, high risk pregnancies, respiratory illnesses and cancer. In 2015 the California Council on Science and Technology recommended a science-based setback to protect public health. There are nearly 30,000 oil wells within a half mile of homes, schools, hospitals and other sensitive sites throughout the state.

“The thought of not having to feel the oil drilling tremors, the smells from the fumes, and the eyesore of the oil derricks next to our homes within my lifetime seems unreal! I was so proud to be a Californian that fought to get rid of these dangerous neighbors, but was so disappointed to learn that Big Oil managed to trick their way into a referendum,” said Romeo Clay, Wilmington community member and Intern with Communities for a Better Environment. “I know that we will persevere and that the public will maintain ournew environmental safety law. Whether you joined the fight a long time ago or today, know that you can make a world of a difference by voting to end neighborhood drilling for millions of us.”

Today, more than two million Californians are exposed to the most toxic emissions. Most are in low-income communities, and people of color are disproportionately harmed by neighborhood drilling.

Front line communities across the Central Valley are ready to hold Big Oil accountable. We can’t continue to allow Big Oil to endanger our communities who live, work, and go to school with the toxic fumes, spills, spews, and leaks from well sites in our neighborhoods. This common sense measure will protect those of us in low-income communities of color who are the most impacted by Big Oil’s pollution every day.”

Leaders from across California are supporting this campaign.

“For a decade now, front-line communities and communities of color have tirelessly worked to ensure that our communities stop being hostages to the fossil fuel industry,” said Juan Flores, Community Organizer with Center for Race, Poverty and the Environment. “Our communities deserve a brighter and healthier future, where we don’t have to wake up every morning to an oil pump in our backyard or our children’s playgrounds at school.

Last year, I was proud to lead with communities of color to pass the law establishing a 3200 foot safe and healthy buffer zone. Together we are fighting for their lives and for a future for all Californians from oil drilling in their neighborhoods. The law passed with overwhelming support from your elected leaders across California to protect communities and bring accountability to Big Oil,” said Senator Lena Gonzalez. “And now, we are standing with the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy California to hold Big Oil accountable for the decades they’ve spent poisoning our neighborhoods for profit.”

“No Californian should endure the poison of fossil fuels in their neighborhoods, but the law meant to protect us is under attack from the oil and gas industry. Big Oil raked in $200 billion last year in our state, while thousands of children went to emergency rooms because they live or go to school right next to an oil or gas well. Our network of over 500 elected officials at EOPA California proudly stands with the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy California to uphold common sense, science-based safety setbacks from dangerous drilling. It’s time for justice," said Meghan Sahli-Wells, California Director of Elected Officials to Protect America, Former Mayor of Culver City.

For more information about our campaign, please visit our website at:

Press Contact:

Robin Swanson

(916) 204-6890