(SACRAMENTO, CA) – In the wake of several domestic oil drilling disasters, including the nearly 240,000 gallons of crude oil recently spilled in Kern County by Chevron, the California State Senate today gave final approval to AB 1440 by Assemblymember Marc Levine (D – Marin County), which would for the first time in a generation, prioritize public health and the environment when making future oil and gas development decisions. The measure was approved by the State Senate on a 27 to 11 vote and had previously been approved by the State Assembly on a 48 to 21 vote.
California is the seventh largest oil-producing state in the nation. Since the early 20th century, the state’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) has regulated oil and gas extraction, initially prioritizing maximum fossil fuel extraction over potential public health or environmental damage. AB 1440 would recast DOGGR’s responsibilities by prioritizing public health and protection of the environment over increased oil and gas development.
"Assemblymember Levine's legislation is a welcome revision to the mission statement of both DOGGR and the State Lands Commission," stated Bill Allayaud, California Director of Government Affairs for the Environmental Working Group, one of the two sponsors of the bill. "These agencies should not be expected to ensure the maximum extraction of all the hydrocarbons in the state but rather should prioritize the safety of the public and environment while serving industry fairly."
Levine’s AB 1440 would revise DOGGR’s future responsibilities by ensuring that when an application for a new oil or gas drilling permit is filed, that the state consider the impacts that the oil or gas well would have on the environment and the public’s health.
“DOGGR’s governing statute is a time capsule from an era when California prioritized pulling maximum oil out of the ground, come what may,” said Ann Alexander, Senior Attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “AB 1440 is an effective start toward modernizing the statute, making clear that in the 21st Century, DOGGR’s chief priority needs to be protecting public health and the environment.”
AB 1440 has received support from a broad cross section of environmental organizations including the Environmental Working Group, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, the California Association of Professional Scientists, the California League of Conservation Voters, California Voices for Progress, Environmental Entrepreneurs, Environmental Defense Fund and Fossil Free California.
“The global climate crisis and California’s future requires us all to take action to reduce our production and dependence on fossil fuels,” said Assemblymember Levine. “As California moves towards a carbon neutral economy, AB 1440 is an important tool to ensure that we prioritize public health and the environment over oil industry profits when deciding where to locate future oil and gas drilling. California’s environment and its people need leaders to take bold action to protect us for generations to come. Environmental leaders and I stand united in calling on Governor Newsom to sign AB 1440 into law.”
AB 1440 now heads to Governor Gavin Newsom for final action.
Assemblymember Marc Levine represents California’s 10th Assembly District, which includes Marin and Sonoma Counties.
Connect with Assemblymember Levine on social media: @AsmMarcLevine.
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