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Campaign for a Safe and Healthy California Announces Historic Win in David vs.

 After Spending $61 Million in a Failed Effort to Deceive Voters, Big Oil Withdraws Referendum in Defeat

Coalition Led by Neighborhood Activists and Environmental Justice Communities Celebrates Winning Health and Safety Laws Protecting Californians from Toxic Oil Drilling

SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 27, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Today the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy California (CSHC) announced that despite opponents spending nearly $61 million on deceitful efforts to repeal a California law (SB 1137) that protects neighborhoods from toxic drilling, Big Oil has reversed course and forfeited their deceitful ballot measure from the November ballot in a stunning defeat.

“Big Oil spent tens of millions of dollars trying to fool voters, using the profits made at the expense of community health, but it was no match for the groundswell of people power and community support we were able to unite all across California,” said Darryl Molina Sarmiento, CSHC Steering Committee Member and Executive Director of Communities for a Better Environment. “Though Big Oil is crawling back in defeat on this issue, we know this won’t be the last David vs. Goliath fight we win against them.”

By initially putting a deceptive measure on the ballot, Big Oil tried to repeal a law (SB 1137) that would make existing oil and gas wells safer by meeting tighter health and environmental requirements within 3,200 feet of neighborhoods, schools, daycare centers and healthcare facilities, and keeping new wells from being built in these areas.

“This campaign has been about giving voice to the people living in communities most affected by Big Oil’s indifference to public health, where drilling has taken place in their backyards and in the places where they work, play and go to school. This was a contest between industry profits and public health, and our bold campaign won. Because of this broad and powerful coalition of community organizers, activists, elected officials, health workers, philanthropies and more, Big Oil knew it would be unable to overturn a 2022 California law passed by a bipartisan legislature, and has withdrawn. Time to move ahead, and connect public health with the amazing growth industry of renewable energy in California,” added philanthropist Wendy Schmidt, the top funder of the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy California.

The withdrawal of the referendum means the health and safety law is once again in effect immediately. Oil and gas companies may no longer drill new wells or redrill existing wells within the health buffer, and will need to comply with pollution control and safety measures designed to reduce the harm from existing wells. Californians will benefit immediately from the law’s protections. For example, Signal Hill Petroleum, which contributed $3.2 million dollars to the campaign to overturn the law, will be unable to proceed with its dangerous proposal to drill dozens of new wells within the health buffer. 

Nearly 30,000 oil and gas wells in California sit within 3,200 feet of homes, schools, hospitals and other public areas, exposing nearly 3 million people, disproportionately communities of color, to emissions that can cause birth defects, respiratory illnesses and cancer. An independent scientific advisory panel in 2021 advised California officials that a 3,200-foot setback between oil wells and sensitive receptors is the minimum distance to protect public health. 

The Campaign for a Safe and Healthy California, organized as, began with community leaders standing up to toxic oil drilling in their neighborhoods and has grown to include more than 400 organizations, labor unions, community and faith leaders, two Governors of California, public health groups, and environmental justice leaders from across California, working to hold oil companies accountable for creating a public health crisis, especially for communities of color.

For more information about our campaign, please visit our website at:

Paid for by Campaign for a Safe and Healthy California, sponsored by nonprofit environmental and health organizations. Committee Top Funders: Advocacy Action Fund, Inc., Wendy Schmidt, Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.

SOURCE Campaign for a Safe and Healthy California

Read More: Campaign for a Safe and Healthy California Announces Historic Win in David vs.

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