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Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Bill That Would Create Larger Buffers Between Oil and Gas Wells and Public Places Passes Assembly

AB 345 is ‘a top priority environmental justice bill’

By Evan Symon, January 29, 2020 2:29 pm

Ana Fernandez, a Los Angeles supporter of the bill who had supported the bill through public meetings, was also ecstatic over the Assembly passage.

“You can see those big oil pumpers out there. You can see have coming off them,” said Fernandez. “It always crosses my mind when I pick up my kids ‘If something happens, they can be injured.’ or ‘Those fumes could physically hurt them.’ And today the government finally took steps to fix all that. Finally.”

AB 345 concerns

Assembly Democrats have been largely split over the bill, with Republicans being fully against it. Despite environmental and health concerns, those voting no pointed out that the language is still wildly open to interpretation, and that production would still drop to low levels, affecting everything from jobs to gas prices to dangers of abandoned facilities.

“Pumpjacks require a lot of work,” said Gus Stevenson, an oil field worker in California. “You have to constantly monitor them, you have to maintain them, you have to extract, you have to clean due to all the environmental regulations, you have to inspect, and I can go on. These are a lot of skilled positions that the bill would take away with no notice and no gently phasing out. I understand how people can think it can endanger other, especially kids, but we work hard to have them minimally effect them all. Plus a lot of these pumps and buildings were here before all of these schools and houses were. They’re effectively kicking us out because of their mistake of building close-by. It’s not the least bit fair.”

AB 345 will now face a Senate vote soon. With fewer Senators, the bill is still polarizing despite the numerous amendments. The Senate vote is expected to be close.

Evan Symon
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