Activists call on the California Senate to vote YES on AB 345 and protect communities
by Katie Nelson
August 7, 2020
Activists demonstrated in support of California Assembly Bill 345 — which would require a public health and safety buffer zone between oil drilling sites and sensitive areas, such as homes, schools, medical facilities, and childcare centers — this week in Sacramento.
Sacramento, California, August 4, 2020 — Today, activists from Greenpeace USA, California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA) Action, and Voices in Solidarity against Neighborhood Drilling (VISIÓN), demonstrated on the lawn of the state capitol building in downtown Sacramento.  California Senators, who returned to session last week, have the opportunity to protect communities against the unjust and hazardous practice of oil drilling near communities by voting YES on Assembly Bill 345.
Caroline Henderson, Senior Climate Campaigner at Greenpeace USA said:
“We’re here to deliver the message to state legislators that enough is enough. We know constituents overwhelmingly support a 2,500-foot public health and safety buffer from dangerous drilling sites, and are ready for their lawmakers to take action. We need state lawmakers to act on behalf of Californians everywhere by saying NO to treating communities living near drilling as sacrifice zones and YES on AB 345.”
The accompanying banner, framed by oil derricks, reads: Senators, 79% of Californians agree: NO to Sacrifice Zones, YES on AB 345.
Photos, when available, can be found here .
Tomorrow, members of California’s Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee will meet to discuss the bill — which would require a public health and safety buffer zone between oil drilling sites and sensitive areas, such as homes, schools, medical facilities, and childcare centers — and determine whether or not it will have the chance to move to the Senate Appropriations Committee before a full Senate vote. With oil and gas industry groups attempting to scare lawmakers with misleading information on AB 345, activists are sending the clear message that this bill has overwhelming support from Californians across the state. According to recent polling, 79 percent of Californians support a 2,500-foot buffer zone from drilling sites, and 74 percent think their elected officials should act to protect communities from oil hazards.
Despite this widespread support and state reports recommending a setback, the state of California is currently one of the few oil-producing states with no required distance between drilling and communities. While some counties have taken steps towards similar measures, none have reached the 2,500-foot threshold researchers affirm is the minimum distance required in order to protect communities. The Los Angeles Department of Regional Planning recently released plans for a 500-foot buffer zone from new drilling sites, a completely inadequate distance that puts public health, safety, and the environment at risk.
Kobi Naseck, VISIÓN Coalition Coordinator, said:
“AB 345 is about putting people first — and when it comes to the fossil fuel industry, that means people of color. Overwhelmingly, the science shows that living close to oil and gas extraction sites has negative health impacts, and drilling disproportionately happens in BIPOC communities. BIPOC communities are sheltering in place next to toxics right now, and we’re counting on California Senate leaders to protect them. In the midst of a global pandemic that targets respiratory health, there really is no time to delay.”
Katie Valenzuela, Policy & Political Director at CEJA Action said:
“It is completely unacceptable that California is one of the only oil producing states without a setback policy in place. Environmental justice communities have paid the price for our addiction to fossil fuels for far too long. We are asking the Senate to listen to science, to put people before economic profits, and to stand with frontline communities who are demanding change.”
 Activists adhered to California state guidelines regarding social distancing and mask-wearing throughout the event.
 Photos, when available, can be found here.
Katie Nelson, Strategic Communications Specialist, Greenpeace USA: +1 (678) 644-1681, [email protected]