(The Center Square) – Nearly one million Californians have signed an energy-related petition over the past two months.

More than 978,000 California residents have signed the Stop the Energy Shutdown petition. Those signatures have been turned in to the county registrar of voter offices throughout the state, according to a press release from the California Independent Petroleum Association. 

The signatures are for a referendum aimed at stopping a new California law (Senate Bill 1137) that sets distance minimums between new oil wells and certain areas. The measure bans new oil wells within 3,200 feet of schools, homes, and hospitals. It also sets pollution controls for existing oil wells within 3,200 feet of these zones.

The California Independent Petroleum Association is leading the referendum effort and bashed the new law, arguing that there is no scientific basis for the requirement.

“California-produced oil is the most climate-compliant oil in the world,” Rock Zierman, Chief Executive Officer of the California Independent Petroleum Association (CIPA), said in the release. “Producers in our state must adhere to the state’s greenhouse gas reduction program and account for all emissions. Foreign oil imports are totally exempt from those requirements.”

The CIPA argues that the law will restrict the supply of domestic oil, forcing California to import more expensive and less environmentally friendly foreign oil.

“There is absolutely no reason California should be held hostage and export our wealth to OPEC+ countries,” Zierman added in the release. “But by strangling our domestic supply, Governor Newsom is promoting greater greenhouse gas emissions generated in other parts of the world and making gasoline more expensive.”

Supporters of the law argue that it protects the health of millions of Californians. About 5.5 million Californians live within one mile of at least one or more oil and gas wells. Supporters argue that this increases the risks of asthma, preterm births, high-risk pregnancies, and cancer.

Opponents of the law will need to have 623,000 qualifying signatures for their measure to make the 2024 ballot. If it makes the ballot, then the voters will decide the fate of the law. 

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