Bill making oil companies liable for some health problems blocked in California

Sacramento, Calif.: California lawmakers blocked two big environmental bills Thursday: One that would have ramped up the state’s emissions targets, and another that would have made oil companies liable for the health problems of people who live close to oil wells.

They are among the hundreds of bills that did not survive the Legislature’s suspense file, a mysterious process where lawmakers decide — with no explanation — which bills will get a chance to become law later this year and which ones should not move forward.

Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law that bans drilling new oil wells within 3,200 feet (975 meters) of sensitive areas like homes and schools. But the law hasn’t taken effect because the oil industry qualified a referendum on the 2024 ballot asking voters to overturn it.

That referendum angered environmental and health advocates. They decided if the oil industry wanted to block that law, then they would try to pass another law making it easier for oil companies to be held liable for health problems of people who live near wells. The bill, authored by Sen. Lena Gonzalez, would have required oil companies to pay up to $1 million to people who have cancer or other health problems associated with the well.

“Today, we missed a key opportunity to advance legislation that would hold polluters accountable and prevent further harm to families who are just trying to stay healthy and have a better quality of life,” Gonzalez said in a statement.

Image courtesy of (NBC Bay Area)

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