Campaign behind a California oil and gas veto referendum submits nearly 1 million signatures 

On Dec. 13, California Independent Petroleum Association (CIPA), which is leading the Stop the Energy Shutdown campaign, announced that the campaign to place a veto referendum to repeal recently passed oil and gas regulations on the 2024 ballot had collected over 978,000 signatures. 

The referendum would repeal Senate Bill 1137 (SB 1137), which would prohibit new oil and gas wells within 3,200 feet of homes, schools, nursing homes, and hospitals. It would also require companies to monitor leaks and emissions and install alarms. SB 1137 passed the California State Senate by a vote of 35-0 with five not voting. It passed the California State Assembly by a vote of 46-24 with 10 not voting. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed SB 1137 on Sept. 16.

Stop the Energy Shutdown filed the veto referendum on Sept. 19 and had until Dec. 15 to submit 623,212 valid signatures. According to the latest campaign finance filings, Stop the Energy Shutdown reported over $20 million in contributions. The top donors to the committee included Sentinel Peak Resources California LLC ($4.5 million), Signal Hill Petroleum, Inc. ($3.2 million), and E & B Natural Resources Management Corp. ($2.9 million).

When announcing the signature filing, California Independent Petroleum Association (CIPA) tweeted, “If implemented, SB 1137 would increase CA’s already high gas prices by decreasing our energy supply and replacing it with expensive imported foreign oil that tankers must transport from counties that do not uphold the same environmental or labor standards.”

The Sierra Club of California supports the new law. Brandon Dawson, director of the Sierra Club of California, said, “The oil and gas industry knows no bounds when it comes to putting profits over people and subverting the democratic process. California frontline communities have been fighting for protections from toxic oil and gas pollution for decades, and the setbacks mandated by SB 1137 will go a long way towards preserving those communities’ air quality and ecosystems.”

California Independent Petroleum Association (CIPA), Chevron, and Aera jointly sponsored two local veto referendums during the 2022 election cycle in Ventura County. The referendums, Measures A and B, were on ordinances enacted by the county board of supervisors designed to regulate the exploration and production of oil and gas. The referendums asked voters whether they wanted to adopt the county’s proposed regulations. Both measures were defeated with about 52% of the vote, meaning the ordinances were not adopted.

In 1912, Californians voted on a statewide veto referendum for the first time. The most recent veto referendum was on the ballot in 2022, and voters decided to uphold the law. Californians have voted on 50 veto referendums, upholding laws 21 times (42%) and repealing laws 29 times (58%).

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