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Calif. oil regulator blasted out well permits before — and after — drilling law took effect

By Wes Venteicher | 07/08/2024 06:17 AM EDT

The California Geologic Energy Management Division was trying to fulfill terms of a wetlands restoration deal, a spokesperson said.

Oil pumpjacks are pictured.

The fight continues over oil wells near homes in California even after an industry group withdrew its challenge to the state's ban on drilling near homes. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

SACRAMENTO, California — California’s oil and gas regulator was actively issuing a series of permits for new wells when a new law took effect last month prohibiting those wells, the California Geologic Energy Management Division acknowledged Wednesday.

CalGEM issued 30 permits to Long Beach-based Synergy Oil & Gas to drill new wells in the hours immediately before and after a law banning drilling within 3,200 feet of homes and other buildings went into effect June 27.

The agency was attempting to fulfill terms of a wetlands restoration deal near Long Beach before the law kicked in the evening of June 27 but only ended up getting 21 of the 30 permits out in time, CalGEM spokesperson Jacob Roper said in an email Wednesday. California’s SB 1137, which bans drilling within 3,200 feet of most occupied buildings, went live when the California Independent Petroleum Association to it.

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The Center for Biological Diversity accused CalGEM last Monday of violating the law, and the agency rescinded nine permits it determined were issued after the deadline, Roper said.

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