By Andrew Sheeler, THE SACRAMENTO BEE
COALITION FORMS TO SUPPORT BILL HOLDING OIL INDUSTRY LIABLE FOR HEALTH PROBLEMS
Californians who have developed cancer, respiratory illness or birth defects as a result of nearby oil drilling could sue the oil industry for up to $1 million, under legislation now under consideration.
SB 556, by Sen. Lena Gonzalez, D-Long Beach, is set to be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 25.
“Oil drillers who have disregarded the detrimental impacts to communities they drill in, need to be accountable for the harms they cause that are scientifically linked to their drilling,” Gonzalez said in a statement.
The bill is backed by a coalition of more than 130 groups, including co-sponsors Consumer Watchdog and the Center for Race, Poverty and the Environment, as well as the Center for Biological Diversity, CALPIRG, Food and Water Watch and the Sierra Club.
A previous bill by Gonzalez, SB 1137, banned oil drilling within 3,200 feet of schools, hospitals and other vulnerable centers. That law is currently on hold pending a voter referendum in 2024.
“Like the gun industry that is liable for unsafe conduct in the manufacture and distribution of weapons in California, oil drillers that ignore safety standards should be presumptively liable for the illnesses linked to their negligence,” said Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court in a statement.