State Proposes New Setback Regulations for Oil Drilling Operations, Aims to Protect Public Health

This week, the California Department of Conservation’s Geologic Energy Management (CalGEM) issued a proposed regulation that would prohibit new oil wells and facilities within a 3,200-foot exclusion area, or setback, from homes, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and other sensitive locations. The proposed regulation would also require pollution control measures for existing wells and facilities within the same 3,200-foot setback area.

According to the Newsom Administration, the proposed regulation is intended to protect public health. A 15-member public health expert panel selected by the University of California, Berkeley and Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers (PSE) for Healthy Energy helped inform the state’s proposed regulation. The panel determined that when oil and gas developments are within 3,200 feet, there is a strong connection to higher rates of adverse birth outcomes, respiratory diseases, and other health impacts.

CalGEM has now begun its 60-day public comment period on the proposed regulation. Once completed, CalGEM will conduct a full analysis of the rule to then be submitted to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) for further review and refinement, if needed.

Additional information, including on the public comment period, is available here.