California Senate advances bill to penalize oil wells near homes

By Wes Venteicher | 06/27/2024 06:50 AM EDT

The vote adds pressure on an oil industry group’s decision to advance a referendum or pull it.

SACRAMENTO, California — A California state Senate committee voted Tuesday to approve a bill targeting low-production oil wells within 3,200 feet of homes and schools, raising the stakes for an oil industry group’s decision this week on whether it will advance or drop its effort to get voters to protect wells in the same zone.

The Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee approved Assemblymember Isaac Bryan’s A.B. 2716 on a 6-4 vote. The bill would fine oil companies $10,000 per day for operating wells that produce less than 15 barrels per day in the setback zone.

Democratic state Sen. Melissa Hurtado joined Republicans in opposing it and Democratic state Sen. Susan Talamantes Eggman declined to vote, citing concerns about jobs and California’s ability to meet its continued demand for gasoline.


The bill could factor into the California Independent Petroleum Association’s decision — due by Thursday — on whether it will drop its referendum challenge to California’s oil setback law, which prohibits new wells plus a procedure that rejuvenates existing wells within the 3,200-foot zone.