"When an Oil Well Is Your Neighbor"

"Three years ago, California Gov. Gavin Newsom promised to safeguard the health and safety of people living near oil and gas operations, but change hasn’t come. Millions still live near noxious oil and gas rigs, many long exempt from air pollution rules, as scientific evidence of their harm mounts."

"ARVIN, Calif.—On a blistering July afternoon, a rusty pumpjack bobs noisily as it sucks up tarry oil in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Arvin, a close-knit farmworker community in the heart of California oil country.

To an outsider, it’s a shock to see a pumpjack barely 25 feet from someone’s home. But for Yesinia Martinez, the dilapidated rig beyond her bedroom window is just something that’s always been there.

Her health problems, too, have always been there.

Every day is a struggle. “I wake up and I have, like, no energy to get up,” she said. “I get headaches often. My memory is horrible.”

Martinez personifies California’s failure to protect its residents from the harsh realities of living near fossil fuel extraction. Oil and gas operations have been linked to a growing list of serious health consequences, from birth defects to cancer, while the industry’s wastewater pollutes the state’s dwindling groundwater reserves. Meanwhile, environmental watchdogs armed with state-of-the-art imaging cameras routinely detect toxic emissions from neighborhood oil and gas wells and storage tanks, demonstrating the failure of state and regional regulators to keep communities safe."

Liza Gross reports for Inside Climate News August 29, 2022.

Source: Inside Climate News, 08/30/2022