November 23, 2023
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Brown vetoes bill to cap abandoned oil wells along coast


Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would’ve capped abandoned oil wells along the California Coast.

SB 900, authored by Santa Barbara Democrat Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, would’ve required the analysis of some 220 abandoned wells along the coast and capped the biggest leakers.

This bill would’ve transferred $500,000 from the General Fund to the Land Bank Fund and required additional funds to remove and remediate the wells. In Brown’s veto message, the governor asked regulators to develop an inventory of the wells to determine the seepage locations, rates and environmental impacts.

“Having this information will better inform what remedial actions might be warranted for both the short and long-term, and appropriate ways of funding the needed actions,” Brown wrote.

Brown signed a similar bill penned by Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, in September. AB 2729 ensures that funding is available to cap idle wells and creates disincentives for operators to maintain large numbers of idle wells. The bill also broadens the definition by no longer excluding active observation wells.

California has more than 21,000 wells that have been idle for more than 10 years, 2,200 of which are in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, Williams said.

Existing legal mechanisms do not sufficiently incentivize owners to properly cap wells and there are few resources to clean up the sites when they have been abandoned, he said. Taxpayers often have to foot the bill, Williams said.

• Contact Alex Kacik at