Senate Bill 1137, gut-and-amend legislation by Democrat Senators Lena Gonzalez and Monique Limón, would require 3,200-foot mandatory setbacks around California oil and gas wells.
Really disconcerting is “the bill would authorize the State Air Resources Board, and the State Water Resources Control Board to prescribe, adopt, and enforce any emergency regulations as necessary to implement, administer, and enforce these duties.”
Why now when oil production has responsibly occurred in Los Angeles County and around the state for more than 100 years?
Just in the City of Los Angeles:
- there are 26 oil and gas fields that intersect city boundaries, and 5,229 oil and gas wells, according to the CA DOGGR and verified by the City’s Petroleum Administrator.
- There are approximately 819 active, 296 idle, 3,181 plugged, and 933 buried wells.
- There are oil and gas facilities in nearly every section of the 503 square miles of the City.
- The City of Los Angeles produces 2% of California’s total production.
In January, the Globe reported that the City of Los Angeles was proposing a ban on all new oil and gas extraction, as well as phasing out all existing wells over the next twenty years. “If approved as an ordinance later this year, LA would phase out new drilling much sooner than the state, and would lead the county to phase out production much sooner than the state’s 2045 date.” LA City Council President Nury Martinez said, “This is yet another example of how frontline communities disproportionately bear the impacts of pollution and climate change. Los Angeles is a city that constantly leads the way and today let it be a reminder that the city council prioritizes the health and wellbeing for every Angeleno.”
Requiring a 3,200 foot setback would impose a ban on all of Los Angeles’ oil wells, and drive up the cost of oil and gas in the state.
What is story behind the “lunacy” of this bill, which goes far beyond Los Angeles oil and gas extraction?
According to Dave Noerr, the “lunacy” stems from untrue claims frequently repeated by media, that “the fossil fuel industry contributes to public health harms that kill hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. each year and disproportionately endanger Black, Brown, Indigenous, and poor communities,” (As City Council President Nury Martinez said).
An Environmental Health Perspective at the National Institute for Health (NIH) study claims “A number of studies indicate that there may be negative health outcomes associated with living in close proximity to oil and gas development. Degraded air quality; surface water, groundwater and soil contamination; and elevated noise and light pollution are exposure pathways that contribute to potential human health impacts.”
Notice the language – “there may be negative health outcomes;” “associated with living in close proximity to oil and gas development.” The study never affirmatively proves this, as they state in their conclusion (page 9/11).
The Mayor of Taft, CA and President and CEO of Huddleston Crane Service, Noerr says this is totally arbitrary and not based in science. The NIH study appears to prove this.
What was the NIH study methodology? “We geospatially overlay locations of active oil and gas wells in the conterminous United States and Census data to estimate the population living in proximity to hydrocarbon development at the national and state levels. We compare our methods and findings with existing proximity studies.”
Census data overlayed on a map… That does seem like a hypothesis in search of a study.
According to an Assembly Appropriations Committee analysis of a similar previous but more modest oil well setback bill (AB 345 Muratsuchi), it could cost up to $4 billion dollars in lost state revenue and subjects the state to significant legal liability under the takings clause of the U.S. Constitution. The analysis said there would be a minimum of $1 million in litigation costs.
A recent study by the City of Los Angeles estimated that the potential cost to the City establishing a future setback distance could be as high as $97.6 billion in compensation for future value of mineral rights owed from takings litigation.
Noerr points out that as recently as 1988, the state of California only imported about 4.5% of all the oil that we consumed in our state. He notes that in 2020 we imported over 70%. “If you wonder what happens when you give up energy independence, that’s what’s going on.”
Noerr told the Globe he began working in the Taft oilfields in 1981 as a roustabout (entry level laborer), and worked his way up. In 1991, he became president of Huddleston Crane Service, Inc., which provides oilfield services in the Taft area. He was elected to Taft’s city council in 2004 and is serving his fourth term, and his second term as mayor.
To prove his statements, Noerr had the Globe go onto the CalGEM website (formerly Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources, DOGGR), look up “well-finder,” type in the city of Delano, CA, and filter “active wells.” There are 7-9 wells in Delano that were there long before local government approved building homes and the community around them.
He said he’s been working next to oil wells since 1981. He lives in Taft, has raised his family in Taft, surrounded by ten’s of thousand’s of oil wells and legacy oil fields (map below), and they are all healthy people. Taft celebrated its Centennial in 2010 – it’s been around for 122 years, and as Noerr says, Taft residents aren’t sick or dying any more than anywhere else in the state.
Noerr said if the the Governor, lawmakers and the State of California force oil wells to close down because of the 3,200 feet osetback, California would sink into energy poverty – and especially the underserved, people of color and the poor who can’t afford solar rooftop systems, or expensive electric cars.
But that doesn’t seem to concern the private jet class or political elites.
“‘Energy poverty’ is a widespread problem across Europe, as between 50 and 125 million people* are unable to afford proper indoor thermal comfort,” the European Union explains. Energy poverty occurs when energy bills cost a high percentage of household income, affecting the ability to pay other household expenses. It also occurs when, as the EU said, consumers are forced to reduce the energy consumption of their households, affecting their health and well-being.
Energy costs in Europe is expected to increase by 1000% almost immediately: Oil prices have doubled, coal prices have quadrupled, and natural gas have increased by seven times.
Do the authors of AB 1137 understand that by banning existing oil wells, California will be thrust into immediate energy poverty? Is that the plan?
Noerr noted that it’s the green policies imposed by California, including surcharges, taxes and fees, that are causing the cost of energy to skyrocket – which is what the green energy proponents want. Banning oil fields would only greatly exacerbate the problem straight into a full crisis as we are seeing in real time in Europe.
“The rush to go green in Europe is a fantasy,” Noerr said. In its attempt to build “a climate-friendly future,” Europe has shunned oil, natural gas, and nuclear power, to its own detriment – and is now paying 80% higher energy bills.
Consequently, European Union lawmakers voted in July to include natural gas and nuclear in the bloc’s list of sustainable activities, backing a proposal from the EU’s executive arm that has been drawing fierce criticism from environment groups and now looks set to trigger legal challenges, ABC News reported in July.
California lawmakers only need to observe Europe’s “Greenwashing” to see where California is headed if AB 1137 passes and becomes law.
“According to the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) peer-reviewed study on the impacts oil and gas operations, ‘In the South Coast air district (including all of Orange County, the non-desert regions of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County, and Riverside County), upstream oil and gas sources represent small proportions (<1%) of criteria air pollutant and toxic air contaminant emissions,’” ExtractingFact.com reported.
“Several studies conducted by the Department of Public Health and the Los Angeles County Oil and Gas Strike Team have found that the overall health of residents who live near oil and gas operations is similar to the overall health of residents throughout Los Angeles County.”
In the United States, there are currently more than 20 million homes behind in energy bill payments. In California, energy poverty is real and pushes people further down into poverty.
Noerr said for those sincerely interested in reducing carbon emissions, the global textile industry has a much larger carbon footprint than the aviation industry. He also said the “invisible waste” for one laptop computer is 1,200 kilograms, which is 2,645.5 pounds. For one Electric Vehicle, there are 500,000 pounds of “invisible waste.”
“Invisible Waste” refers to the large amount of waste generated during the manufacturing process of products.
“Gavin seems to think he can wave his magic wand and we’ll all be driving EVs,” Noerr said. “Even Elon Musk knows 52% of his cars are plastic.”
Even Elon Musk knows we need more oil and gas production. CNBC reported: “Realistically I think we need to use oil and gas in the short term, because otherwise civilization will crumble,” Musk said.
There are some estimates that charging one electric car is the equivalent of 25 refrigerators.
“One of the biggest challenges the world has ever faced is the transition to sustainable energy and to a sustainable economy,” Musk said. “That will take some decades to complete.”
Green energy cannot replace oil and gas, and is nowhere near close to replacing oil, gas and coal.
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