Millions of Californians are celebrating Governor Newsom’s proposed ban on new oil and gas drilling within 3,200 feet of schools, homes, and hospitals to protect public health. Once passed, this will be the nation’s largest buffer zone separating new polluting oil wells from communities. This move shows that Governor Newsom means business when he says: “We don’t see oil in our future.” But the fight isn’t over yet.

Despite the Golden State’s environmental reputation, oil drilling across the state takes place dangerously close to communities. Over seven million Califorians live within a mile of drill sites that use and emit known carcinogens and chemicals with proven records of toxicity. Pollution from drill sites contribute to health impacts including cancer, preterm birth and low birth weights, asthma and other respiratory diseases, hospitalization for heart failure, fatigue, stress, and severe cases of COVID-19

Neighborhood drilling threatens life expectancy and overwhelmingly impacts Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and low-income communities. It is one of the clearest examples of California’s legacy of environmental racism.

Communities living on the frontlines of California’s dirty fossil fuel industry came together to form VISION – Voices in Solidarity against Oil in Neighborhoods. With the support of climate justice and public health advocates at Last Chance Alliance, they led the fight for this health and safety buffer for nearly a decade. By urging the Governor to listen to the stories of impacted community members, these groups representing millions of Californians helped secure this significant victory. It wasn’t a straight path and there were many delays. But organizations and advocates persevered to hold Governor Newsom and his agencies accountable.

Environmental Justice group Communities for a Better Environment is one of the organizations leading the fight to protect communities. This past summer, they teamed up with Jane Fonda to take the first Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom on a “toxic tour” of Wilmington to show her firsthand what it’s like to live with fossil fuel infrastructure in your backyard.

Today, Californians are celebrating because these long-overdue health and safety protections from dirty oil operations are finally in motion. Frontline communities and environmental justice advocates invite others to join them in thanking Governor Newsom for this historic announcement and keeping up the fight for even more. 

While historic, the draft rule falls short of true equity and justice in many ways, specifically in that it does not extend the setback regulation to existing wells or redrilling permits at those existing sites. Though this recommendation is included in the official Public Health Expert advisory to the administration, it is absent from the draft rule.

Members of VISION and LCA will be working to ensure that the final rule includes rigorous and comprehensive protections from existing oil and gas wells. We’ll be organizing our millions of members to make sure this incredible opportunity truly protects communities and advances environmental justice values. It’s up to us to raise our voices, provide public comment, and call on the Governor to strengthen this rule and defend it from industry misinformation. Join us as we help bring this climate and public health victory across the finish line.

Join us in thanking Gov. Newsom for his move on health and safety setbacks and tell him you support a strong final rule and a future beyond fossil fuels.