Residents in several regions of California allege that they have been misled by signature gatherers over the past two months as a campaign called Stop the Energy Shutdown pushed to gather enough signatures to get a referendum to overturn SB 1137 on the 2024 statewide ballot. This campaign is attempting to get a referendum to overturn SB 1137 removed from its current status as a constitutional amendment.
CIPA Filed A Referendum to Overturn SB 1137
The California Independent Petroleum Association’s Jerome Reedy, a member of the board of administration, filed a referendum to overturn SB 1137 on behalf of Nielsen Merksamer, a legal firm that specialises in ballot measures, a few days after the legislation was passed (PDF). On behalf of Nielsen Merksamer, this was accomplished. This organisation has taken a position opposing a number of state and municipal policies that aim to restrict oil and gas development. For Los Angeles County and the City of Los Angeles, these actions include prohibitions and phase-outs.
About SB 1137
Environmental justice activists have long advocated for legislation to cut air pollution in communities of colour and people with low incomes, so their joy at the passing of SB 1137, which Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law in September, has been well-documented
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Pete Woiwode Asked To Sign To Throw Down SB 1137
On his way to meet a friend at a street festival near downtown Oakland in November, community activist Pete Woiwode was asked if he would want to sign a petition to lower gas prices. However, Woiwode asserted that after reading the petition, he realised that it was actually requesting a vote to throw down SB 1137, a state law passed in September that prohibits the drilling of new oil and gas wells within 3,200 feet of homes, hospitals, and schools.
He said that the signature gatherer left as soon as Woiwode disputed the claim that the petition was intended to lower gas prices. “Look, man, I get paid a lot for each signature I provide, he continued. I disagree with it, but I have to have this job. If you can, kindly sign this petition. Will you follow suit? “He inquired.
Campaign Gathered Millions Of Signature
A man from Kern County, California’s oil-rich Oildale, asserted that a petitioner had told him that drilling close to populated areas has no impact on people’s health. Another man in Los Angeles stated that a petitioner had mislead him into thinking that the referendum would forbid drilling for oil and gas near hospitals and educational institutions. The phase of the campaign to Stop the Energy Shutdown that involves collecting signatures has started.
It was reported a week ago that they had gathered nearly a million signatures, which is a substantial amount more than the roughly 630,000 needed to qualify the issue for the 2024 statewide vote. The Secretary of State’s office has begun the processes required to certify them. If sufficient signatures are confirmed and the referendum is determined to be valid for the ballot, SB 1137 will not become law in January. It won’t be brought up once more until the referendum is over.
Californians Are Misinformed- Last Chance Alliance
Californians are being misled by signature gatherers, according to the Last Chance Alliance, a global coalition of over 900 public health, environmental justice, labour, and climate organisations. Last Chance Alliance is centred in California. The Associated Press has been contacted by Last Chance Alliance with the names of those who claim they were deceived as a result. Climate change activists form the Last Chance Alliance.
Six residents were contacted by the Associated Press who confirmed what they had heard about Last Chance Alliance. Five of the respondents asserted that they had previously filed complaints with the Secretary of State’s office, and one more respondent stated he was about to do so.
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Steps to Clear Misinformation
What steps the Secretary of State will take in response to claims that signature gatherers provided misleading information is unclear. Joe Kocurek, a spokesman for the organisation, stated that the office had received numerous complaints alleging the propagation of misinformation, but he would not provide further details, citing a “ongoing or potential probe.”
According to a statement given to the Associated Press by Rock Zierman, CEO of the California Independent Petroleum Association, signature gatherers were given explicit talking points about how SB 1137 increases the state’s reliance on foreign oil, which is exempt from our strict environmental and labour laws.
Emergency Measures To Be Put
The petition push was organised by PCI Consulting, which on Tuesday took a call from the Associated Press and left a message asking for a callback. However, no one ever called. The management of the petition drive fell to PCI Consulting. The California Department of Conservation announced on Monday that it is thinking about putting in place emergency measures that are comparable to the drilling restrictions in SB 1137.
The Geologic Energy Management Division of the California Department of Conservation and Resources will adopt new regulations that will bar permit requests for new oil and gas wells that are situated within 3,200 feet of schools starting on January 1, 2023. Environmentalists fear that the laws for which they have battled so hard may still be upheld if the referendum is permitted to appear on the ballot. They are worried that this would give oil and gas companies a chance to get approval for new oil and gas wells up to 3,200 feet away from the existing wells.