Harmful Neighborhood Drilling in California

Are you living near an oil and gas well?

Are you one of the millions of Californians living less than a mile from an oil and gas well?

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For years, public health experts have known that living, working, or playing near oil and gas drilling can be linked to a host of harmful health impacts including asthma, respiratory diseases, preterm births, and even cancer.

Use this interactive map to see if you live near toxic drilling.

Health Impacts from Oil and Gas Drilling

Photo of California Fossil Fuel Infrastructure in Bakersfield

While California is known for its natural beauty, and environmental protection, it is also home to a toxic legacy of oil and gas. For decades, cheap oil fueled the California economy but it came with a huge cost. Even when operating by the book, oil and gas wells can leak volatile organic compounds, particulate matter and a toxic cocktail of chemicals — all harmful to humans —   That is why for years, studies have confirmed that being near oil and gas wells is linked to increased risk of numerous diseases and ailments, including respiratory problems and cancer. And our most vulnerable family members — children, elderly, and pregnant people — are the ones most at risk. 

Too many Californians are not aware of this toxic threat while more than 2 million live within half a mile from it — the vast majority of whom are low-income, Black, Indigenous, immigrant, and Latinx. This disproportionate impact from the extraction of oil and gas is ongoing environmental racism in California.

But that’s not all. Too often when oil companies are done sucking up the last drops of oil, they simply walk away, leaving behind rusting idle wells littered across the state that also leak toxic emissions. Today, California has approximately 40,000 idle wells and too little accountability to ensure oil companies clean up the mess anytime soon.

Solutions Are Within Reach

Photo of Greenpeace US banner reading "Fossil Fuels or a Livable California?"

Californians should not be forced to live and work near oil drilling, nor should we be responsible for cleaning up the century of mess left by companies who have simply walked away.

For more than a decade, environmental justice organizations and coalitions in California,  including Greenpeace USA, have been bringing frontline communities together and demanding that lawmakers deliver commonsense public health protections from oil and gas drilling, as well as accountability for oil and gas companies formerly or presently doing business in California. 

Progress has been painstakingly slow, but there is movement. 

  • In September 2022, Governor Newsom signed into law SB 1137 — a bill that would officially establish a 3,200-foot health buffer zone — between toxic drilling and where people live, work, and play.
  • In 2023, California regulators only approved 25 permits for new oil and gas wells in California — a more than 95% drop from previous years. 
  • Also in 2023, Attorney General Bonta and Governor Newsom sued the largest oil companies in the world for the decades of lies and deception and for the damages that the climate crisis has cost the state. 
  • In 2024, Assembly Bill 2716 was introduced in the California Legislature to fine oil companies for low producing and idle wells near neighborhoods. As well as Assembly Bill 1866 to speed up the plugging and remediation of idle wells across the state.

All huge steps. All reason to keep pushing forward and demanding change. But with oil and gas lobbyists doing whatever they can to weaken (and even roll back) these protections, there is still much to be done.  Now is the time to add your voice to the call for Big Oil to get out of our neighborhoods and to clean up their own mess.  

Activists participate in the Rise for Climate, Jobs & Justice march

Tell CA Gov. Newsom to stay strong on ending neighborhood drilling!