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ESE Town Hall Meeting: New Restrictions On Oil and Gas Operations Within A “Health Protection Zone” Is It Necessary, Who Benefits and Who Is Harmed?

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Event Details:

Senate Bill 1137 was passed by the California Legislature in 2022. The bill prohibits the drilling of new wells
and performing remedial operations within a “Health Protection Zone” (“HPZ”) which is defined as 3,200 feet
from residences, schools, health facilities, any building housing a business open to the public, etc. It also
contains some new regulations regarding oil spills and emissions.There are some exceptions where the public
health and safety must be protected and in the case that a Court has found that the prohibition against
drilling results in a “taking” of private property for which the aggrieved party is to receive compensation.
California oil and gas operators complain that the legislation was rushed to passage without consideration of
more sensible regulations supported by science.They assert that the requirements in their present form
would be too costly to comply with and force many operators to cease their operations. This would lead to
increases in California’s already high gasoline price and locally imported oil would have to be imported from
foreign countries with lax environmental standards. Almost 1,000,000 signatures were gathered on a petition
to rescind Bill 1137 and then it could be sent back to the legislature to craft more reasonable rules that make
sense scientifically, protect the public and allow operators to produce oil without undue burdens. The
petition will be on the November 2024 ballot and the public can decide the matter. The implementation of the
bill was to take place on January 1, 2023, but has been stayed pending the outcome of the ballot measure.
Supporting the bill and opposition to the Referendum are several environmental and local groups who claim
that leaks and emissions from oil and gas operations harm the health and well-being of persons living and
working adjacent to the oil fields. Such groups include Earth Justice, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and some
recently formed neighborhood citizens groups.

The California League of Women Voters is sponsoring this event to educate the public about the Referendum
measure and allow both sides to present their positions. The Event is part of a Winter Quarter class, Energy
167/267, Engineering Valuation and Appraisal of Energy Assets. Students will assume the roles of the various
stakeholders (public officials, regulatory agencies, oil company management, citizen groups, environmental
groups, local business owners and residents, to name a few) and will make a short presentation of their
positions. A short question and answer period will follow. Members of the Stanford Community and the public
are invited to attend. The Event will be videotaped and posted on the Department’s website.

Zoom Link:

For more information, contact Professors Kiran Pande or Warren Kourt at