The true cost of fossil fuel production

The Public Health Damage

Our EOPA California, February 14, 2020 letter to Governor Newsom from Elected Officials to Protect California demanding action for the health of all Californians.

Exposure to toxic air contaminants and other pollution caused by oil and gas wells is a significant threat to public health, and disproportionately affects disadvantaged communities and people of color.1

The state of California has found that the most significant health impacts occur within one half mile of oil and gas drilling. According to the California Council on Science and Technology, the greatest health risks occur within one-half mile from active oil and gas development,7 yet nearly 8,500 active California oil and gas wells are within 2,500 feet of homes, schools, and hospitals.8

California only enacted a statewide policy limiting the proximity of new oil and gas wells to homes and vulnerable areas like schools, parks, and hospitals in 2022 by 3,200 feet. But as of December of 2022, there is a challenge to the law with a public referendum, which collected signatures unlawfully. EOPA California continues to fight for those safety setbacks and to have them encompass all existing oil and gas wells.

Worsening the Climate Crisis

Oil and gas drilling in California is deepening the global climate crisis and harming all Californians:

Production of oil and gas is a significant contributor to California’s greenhouse gas emissions,2 with particulates  polluting the air we breathe.

Three-quarters of California’s oil production is as dirty as Canada’s tar sands crude for the climate.3

The public health and climate impacts of fossil fuels already cost Californians more than 12,000 lives and one hundred billion dollars annually.4

The oil and gas industry contributes less than 0.3 percent of California’s GDP and a small number of jobs.5, 6

1. Srebotnjak, Tanja and Miriam Rotkin-Ellman, “Drilling in California: Who’s at risk?,” Natural Resources Defense Council, October 2014, p. 4.

2. California Air Resources Board, “California’s 2017 Climate Change Scoping Plan,” November 2017, p. 7.

3. Oil Stain. How Dirty Crude Undercuts California’s Climate Progress. Center for Biological Diversity. November 2017.

4. Jacobson, Mark Z. et al. “A roadmap for repowering California for all purposes with wind, water, and sunlight.” Energy (2014).

5. U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, “Gross domestic product (GDP) by state (millions of current dollars),” January 24, 2018.

6. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and California Employment Development Department’s (EDD) Labor Market Information Division, “Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages: Industry Information,” industry codes 211 (Oil and gas extraction) and 213 (Support activities for mining), accessed April 2018.

7. California Council on Science and Technology (CCST), “An Independent Scientific Assessment of Well Stimulation in California: An Examination of Hydraulic Fracturing and Acid Stimulations in the Oil and Gas Industry – Summary Report, “ July 2015, p. 63.

8. Oil Change International. The Sky’s Limit California: Why the Paris Climate Goals Demand that California Lead in a Managed Decline of Oil Extraction. May 2018.

EOPA CA is a state chapter within EOPA, a project of the Solon Center for Research & Publishing