SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today issued the following statement on the news that the Arvin City Council passed by a 3-0 vote an ordinance that will require new oil and gas operations to be more protective of public health and safety. As part of the environmental justice work being carried out by the California Department of Justice, Attorney General Becerra filed his strong support for the ordinance on June 8, 2018, making clear that it was a lawful exercise of the City of Arvin’s authority.
“For far too long, Arvin – a community that is home to mostly modest-income, hard-working families – has had to bear significant pollution burdens. Thanks to the important ordinance passed by the City Council, that unfortunate reality will begin to change,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The California Department of Justice supported Arvin’s right to protect its residents’ health and safety by prohibiting oil and gas sites in residential and other sensitive areas, and by establishing buffers for homes, schools, and hospitals. We now offer our congratulations for this momentous public health victory. Earlier this year, we established a Bureau of Environmental Justice so that communities like Arvin know we have their backs. We look forward to continuing to fight on behalf of all Californians and their right to breathe clean air.”
Located 20 miles south of Bakersfield, Arvin has a population of approximately 20,000 that is predominantly Latino, modest-income, and with a high percentage of children under the age of 10. It is a community impacted by serious air quality problems from oil and gas activities and related public health complications, including asthma, allergies and respiratory diseases.
Arvin’s oil and gas facilities have had significant pollution problems. In March 2014, eight Arvin families were evacuated as a result of a toxic gas leak from an underground oilfield production pipeline located near their homes. In February 2016, the California Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, imposed a $75,000 fine on the owner and operator of the pipeline and several oil and gas wells in Arvin.
The new ordinance passed by the City of Arvin will:
· Prohibit the location of new oil and gas sites within the City’s residential, mixed-use, commercial and open space zones;
· Require new oil and gas sites to be located more than 300 feet from residences, schools, hospitals and parks; and
· Implement other requirements related to public health and environmental impacts associated with oil and gas operations.