It turns out that California Assemblywoman Lorena S. Gonzales, who recently posted “F*ck Elon Musk” on Twitter, has a rather interesting background when it comes to fossil fuels. Gonzales’ recent Twitter tirades aside, her vote on AB 345—a legislation calling for a 2500-foot setback between residences and oil operations—hints at a rather peculiar preference for the interests of the fossil fuel industry.
As noted in a 2019 expose by The Real News, almost 5.5 million Californians live within a mile of an oil well. Los Angeles County alone has over 5,000 in operation as of 2015, and over 80% of them are located within 2500 feet of a school, home, or hospital. Some oil wells are built closer to residences. Nalleli Cobo, one of the many voices supporting AB 345, lived in a house that’s only 30 feet from an oil production facility.
AB 345 was proposed by Al Muratsuchi (D-Los Angeles), who argued that the 2500-foot safety and buffer zone would benefit members of the community that frequent sensitive areas. These areas include daycare centers, hospitals, and residential homes.
“AB 345 will mandate a 2,500-foot health and safety buffer zone between new oil and gas wells and sensitive land uses, which include schools, daycare centers, residential homes, and hospitals, thereby creating a safe distance between drilling operations and vulnerable populations in order to avoid serious public health and safety risks and impacts. Oil and gas extraction produces air toxics, including volatile organic compounds like benzene and formaldehyde, fine and ultra-fine particulate matter, and hydrogen sulfide. Other risks include water contamination, toxic chemicals spills, and explosions,” he said.