Oil Driller Accountability Bill Passes CA Assembly, Says Consumer Watchdog

SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 22, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Legislation holding oil drillers accountable for low production wells in communities has passed the California Assembly. 

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AB 2716, authored by Assemblymember Isaac G. Bryan (D-55, Los Angeles), charges $10,000 per day to oil wells producing less than 15 barrels per day within a half mile of a community.

It’s estimated that 2.7 million Californians live within 3,200 feet of an oil well. These Californians suffer higher rates of respiratory illness, prenatal defects, and cancer. AB 2716, the Low-Producing Well Accountability Act, takes aim at wells in these dangerous zones that are adding significantly to these health risks while producing only insignificant amounts of oil.

“Oil drillers would rather keep these low production wells running and poisoning communities than pay the cost to plug them,” said Assemblymember Isaac Bryan. “There needs to be accountability for reckless drilling in communities when there is almost no economic benefit and people pay the price with their health.”

Wells that produce less than 15 barrels of oil per day are known as “stripper wells” because they are considered to be at the end of their economically useful life. It is cheaper for drillers to keep them running with low production than to plug them at a cost of $100,000 or more per well.

By comparison, half of the country’s oil and gas production between 2012 and 2022 came from wells that produced between 100 and 3,200 barrels per day, according to the Energy Information Administration. An onshore well that produces between 1,000 and 3,000 barrels of oil a day is considered a good production range.

“Oil drillers that continue to drill for so little oil so close to communities need to be held accountable, particularly as drillers challenge the legislative ban on new permits for community drilling at the ballot box,” said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, the sponsor of AB 2716. “Drillers need to be incentivized to clean up their messes, which are poisoning communities.”

Considering that 83% of the active oil wells in California are operating as stripper wells, AB 2716 has the potential to positively impact community health across the state. 

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SOURCE Consumer Watchdog