Oil Driller Accountability Bill Passes CA Assembly, Says Consumer Watchdog
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SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 22, 2024 ~ The California Assembly has passed a new legislation that aims to hold oil drillers accountable for low production wells in communities. The bill, known as AB 2716 or the Low-Producing Well Accountability Act, was authored by Assemblymember Isaac G. Bryan from Los Angeles.

Under this new legislation, oil wells producing less than 15 barrels per day within a half mile of a community will be charged $10,000 per day. It is estimated that there are 2.7 million Californians living within 3,200 feet of an oil well. These communities have been suffering from higher rates of respiratory illness, prenatal defects, and cancer due to the proximity of these wells.

Assemblymember Bryan stated that oil drillers would rather continue running these low production wells and polluting communities instead of paying the cost to plug them. He emphasized the need for accountability for reckless drilling in communities where there is almost no economic benefit but significant health risks.

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These low production wells are commonly referred to as "stripper wells" as they are considered to be at the end of their economically useful life. It is cheaper for drillers to keep them running with low production than to plug them at a cost of $100,000 or more per well.

According to the Energy Information Administration, half of the country's oil and gas production between 2012 and 2022 came from wells producing between 100 and 3,200 barrels per day. In comparison, an onshore well that produces between 1,000 and 3,000 barrels of oil a day is considered a good production range.

Consumer Watchdog president Jamie Court, who sponsored AB 2716, stated that oil drillers who continue to operate in such close proximity to communities need to be held accountable. He also highlighted the fact that these drillers are challenging the legislative ban on new permits for community drilling at the ballot box and need to be incentivized to clean up their messes.

With 83% of active oil wells in California operating as stripper wells, AB 2716 has the potential to positively impact community health across the state. The bill now moves on to the Senate for consideration.
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