Amid sky-high gas prices, enviros press to shutter 27% of Calif. oil wells

Draft rules to curb oil wells near sensitive uses, including homes and schools, could shutter a wide swath of California’s shrinking energy production.

As state regulators finish work on a minimum buffer zone between oil and gas wells and sensitive locations like homes and schools, a key detail many will look for when the proposal comes out later this year is whether it would apply only to new drilling, or to existing production sites as well.

A draft rule the state released in October would allow wells already operating within the proposed 3,200-foot setback to continue, but only if they install monitoring equipment and vapor containment systems to make sure petroleum emissions are not risking the health of nearby residents.


Environmental groups are pushing to extend the rule to ban all oil and gas production within the buffer zone — roughly 28,000 wells, or about 27 percent of California’s total, according to a new analysis by oil Fractracker, a group calling for tighter regulation of the industry.

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