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CalChamber Calls Quickly Amended Bills ‘Job Killers’

A pump jack does its job in an oil field in Kern County. Photo by Frank Lopez

published on August 26, 2022 – 14:24
Written by the staff of The Business Journal

In the final days of the legislative session in Sacramento, the California Chamber of Commerce (CalChamber) added a pair of bills to its list of “job killers.”

One regulates the operation of oil wells and the other accelerates the state’s goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Both were amended just before next week’s deadline to pass the legislation.

SB 1137 by Sen. Lena A. Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) establishes a minimum setback of 3,200 feet to prohibit oil and gas activities in specified proximity to homes, schools, and parks.

The bill would specifically prohibit the California Geological Energy Management Division (CalGEM) from approving the drilling, re-drilling, or significant modification of any oil and gas wells in these “health protection” areas.

The bill would also require well operators to implement pollution controls, leak detection and response plans, and provide information about their operations publicly online.

In its opposition to the bill, CalChamber said SB 1137 undermines the governor’s own three-year process to enact health and safety rules around oil and gas extraction facilities.

According to CalChamber, an economic analysis finds that SB 1137 puts about 8,000 jobs at risk in the oil and gas, construction, trade and supply sectors.

“The approach proposed in SB 1137 will do nothing to reduce California’s oil and gas energy demands,” said CalChamber President and CEO Jennifer Barrera. “Instead, it will drive production out of California and force the state to rely on even more foreign oil imports that are produced in less environmentally protected places than California.”

The other bill, AB 2133 by Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), was gutted and amended on Tuesday to require statewide greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced at least 55% below 1990 levels by December 31, 2030, according to CalChamber.

The state’s current target is a 40% reduction.

CalChamber said the measure would impose excessive costs on residents and businesses.

“At a time when Californians are suffering from high prices and the threat of a recession looms, raising costs is the wrong approach to take,” Barrera said. “The rushed review of this proposal deprives everyone of the opportunity to think carefully about the costs and consequences.”

The more aggressive greenhouse gas reduction target was part of a broad package of climate proposals announced by Governor Newsom on August 12.

Opponents of the package said there was not enough time to discuss it before the end of the August 31 legislative session.