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Climate and Environment

Newsom Backs Plan To Ban New Oil And Gas Wells By 2023

Oil drill seen through chainlink fence in Baldwin Hills at dusk.
An oil well drill in Baldwin Hills
(Photo by Jonathan Alcorn (Sundogg) via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr)
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Gov. Gavin Newsom took a first step Thursday toward dealing with the pollution emitted by oil drilling all over the state. His proposal: banning the building of new oil and gas wells within 3,200 feet of homes, schools and healthcare facilities.

Under the state's plan, companies would also have to monitor pollution at existing wells in this so-called buffer zone which equates to around half-a-mile.

Experts have said that living close to an oil field puts people at higher risk for developing health issues like asthma, and is especially problematic for pregnant women. Newsom acknowledged this point at a news conference in the city of Wilmington, home to the highest concentration of oil wells in Los Angeles County.

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"You've heard from so many of the leaders about their personal story, the doctors that are trying to encourage mothers to get exercise. But those mothers are told that they have to close the windows at their own home and they shouldn't go out. And so today, we're not denying that reality. We're taking some responsibility," Newsom said.

The governor's proposal will have to go through a long process before it becomes official. He's confident however that this will result in one of the country's "most aggressive" buffers between oil drilling sites and surrounding communities.

More than 2 million Californians live within 3,200 feet of a drilling site. Most are low-income residents and people of color in L.A. County and the Central Valley.

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