August 31, 2022



Kobi Naseck | 

Riddhi S. Patel | 


3,200ft Setbacks on New and Existing Wells Passes through the Legislature 

Environmental justice groups applaud SB 1137 to enact health and safety buffer zones for oil and gas wells


SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, Senators voted 25-10 in a decisive victory to advance SB 1137 (Gonzalez, Limon) to the Governor’s desk. When signed by Governor Newsom before the September 30th deadline, SB 1137 will prevent new permits for oil and gas drilling within a 3,200ft comprehensive health and safety zone. The bill also will create a pathway to an end of existing drilling in the setback zone by prohibiting operators from seeking rework permits and through a broad set of engineering and pollution controls.


This decisive legislative victory for oil and gas buffer zones comes three years after a broad coalition of environmental justice, public health, labor, youth and environmental organizations first launched an effort to pass statewide setbacks policy.  


Governor Newsom, who has publicly championed a phaseout timeline for oil extraction in California, introduced the setbacks bill as part of a late-session set of Climate Pillars. A regulatory effort to achieve setbacks had stalled for years in the state oil and gas regulatory agency, CalGEM, even after residents from across California submitted over 80,000 public comments to the state agency in support of health and safety setbacks.


Please see quotes below from members VISIÓN, the statewide coalition to end neighborhood drilling: 


“This is a victory for every single family and every single frontline community in California that has been fighting Big Oil’s drilling in our backyards for decades and pushing for setbacks for years. Now, we urge the Governor to end California’s legacy of environmental racism and stand with the nearly three million Californians against neighborhood drilling by signing SB 1137 immediately,” said Kobi Naseck, Coalition Coordinator, VISIÓN (Voices in Solidarity Against Oil in Neighborhoods)


“I am truly overjoyed and thankful to all the strong community advocates and my colleagues in the Legislature who have supported SB 1137, to help protect the health of our frontline communities,” said Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach). “This is a historic victory! It brings hope and strengthens our conviction as a State to reach our climate goals and fight for what is right for the people of California. Ensuring that our communities stay healthy, and protected from toxic emissions that cause cancer, respiratory illness, pre-term births and other health complications should always be a priority. Now, SB 1137 is headed to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law, and I urge the Governor to stand with our frontline communities to end neighborhood drilling and create a healthier, more just, and livable future for all.” 


“This is a historic moment in California history and I am beyond grateful to lead this effort with my colleague Senator Gonzalez,” said Senator Limón (D-Santa Barbara). “For too long our dependency on the oil industry has impacted the health and safety of California families, especially our children and communities who live near oil and gas wells. This policy will not only protect Californians, it will rectify long standing injustices for the communities who have borne the brunt of our dependency on fossil fuels.”


“This is a huge environmental justice victory for CEJA Action and our members. We applaud the Governor, Senators González and Limón, and Assemblymember Bryan for their ferocious leadership on this issue. Their unwavering courage to enact 3,200 buffer zones will protect millions of Californians. We thank each and every legislator who voted today to put the health and safety of vulnerable communities over the profits of Big Oil.  Today we celebrate this hard-fought win and tomorrow we continue our fight for equitable and just climate policy in California,” Mabel Tsang, California Environmental Justice Action Political Director. 


This is a huge and hard-fought win for frontline communities. It’s overdue. It had been denied before, but this time around it isn’t. Not in the Assembly. Not in the Senate. Now, the pressure is on the Governor to sign SB 1137. We deserve this,” said Assm. Bryan (D-Culver City)


After years of frontline community members demanding the most basic public health and safety protections, California legislators have finally listened. We’re glad the legislature has at last taken action for setbacks. This win belongs to frontline communities who’ve been fighting for setbacks for years, and it’s a big indicator that our movement is growing and that the tide is turning on Big Oil in Sacramento,” said Dr. Catherine Garoupa White, Executive Director, Central Valley Air Quality Coalition 


“Frontline community members have fought for oil and gas setbacks for over a decade. Thanks to their incredible advocacy and perseverance, they have won fundamental protections that should have never been denied to them. We have deep appreciation for the leadership offered by Senators Gonzalez and Limón and the fantastic team of legislative leaders that have brought this campaign from the impossible to the real,” said Dan Ress, Staff Attorney, Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment 


This win is testament to power that exists in communities,” said Martha Dina Arguello, Executive Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles. “For over a decade, frontline communities have been telling their stories and bravely pushing those in power to stop sacrificing their health for big oil’s profits. This bill signifies the beginning of the end for oil extraction in California.”



“For far too long the status quo for Frontline communities in California has been “wait a little longer and continue to be the sacrifice zone for the rest of California’s progress.” We finally feel seen, and we are grateful. Setbacks are real protection that will not be hindered by ineffective enforcement. For the first time in a long time I can give good news to the community leaders that have been fighting for years to make setbacks a reality.” said Cesar Aguirre, Senior Community Organizer with the Central California Environmental Justice Network


“It feels surreal, when I heard them say ‘it passes’ I felt a huge sense of relief. We have been fighting for this for years! We’ve taken people, including Governor Newsom, to our community and showed them how it looks and smells for those that are living & playing next to oil drilling. I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, for me, and those who will come after me,” said Nizgui Gomez, Wilmington Resident and Member of Communities for A Better Environment.