Supported by The Climate Center

AB 1866 (Hart) Accelerating the closure of idle oil wells

Oil wells at sunset. Photo via Canva.

AB 1866 will protect Californians from the growing impacts of dangerous oil and gas wells across the state by requiring oil companies to accelerate the plugging and clean up of their idle wells.

California’s 40,000 idle oil and gas wells pose a serious threat to our safety, health, environment, and climate. Frontline communities suffer disproportionately high health impacts from the emissions from these wells, such as methane, which has been detected at explosive levels in some cases. Other toxic compounds leaking from idle wells worsen local air quality, contaminate groundwater, and deepen the climate crisis.

The bill requires oil operators to develop a comprehensive plan to plug the estimated 40,000 idle oil wells in California within the next decade. The bill also requires operators to prioritize plugging wells within 3,200 feet of where communities live, play, and work. AB 1866 will create thousands of jobs plugging wells, aiding in a just transition from fossil fuel extraction. For too long, oil companies have left cleanup responsibilities to the taxpayers. AB 1866 will make polluters pay to clean up their mess and plug these dangerous wells.

Committee Location: (Updated 6/17/24) Will be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 24.

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