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Los Angeles Unified School Board President Jackie Goldberg Leads the Charge to Protect Schools and Neighborhoods from Toxic Drilling (06-25-24)

For Immediate Release: June 25, 2024                                            


Los Angeles Unified School Board President Jackie Goldberg Leads the Charge to Protect Schools and Neighborhoods from Toxic Drilling


Board Endorses Campaign for a Safe and Healthy California’s Support of SB 1137


LOS ANGELES, CA – Today, the Los Angeles Unified School Board unanimously passed a Resolution introduced by Board President Jackie Goldberg, and co-sponsored by Board Members Dr. George J. McKenna III, Scott M. Schmerelson, and Kelly Gonez, to stand in strong support of preserving historic law SB 1137 to prevent toxic oil drilling near schools, playgrounds, and neighborhoods. 


“This is an absolutely essential law that protects the health of many of our students and their families,” asserts School Board President Goldberg. “Too often, the health and well-being of our students and educators take a back seat to big business interests – like the plane that dumped 15,000 gallons of aviation fuel over two of our elementary schools in Cudahy. Accidents like this underscore why we wholeheartedly support the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy California’s efforts to maintain a law that will defend our students from toxic and harmful oil drilling near their schools and homes.”


I am astounded by the lengths that the oil industry will go to cover up their negligence in California,” says co-sponsor and Board Vice President Scott M. Schmerelson. “Estimates say that there is a cost of $21 billion just to clean up and cap leaking oil wells in this state alone. The oil industry is proposing only $100 million, leaving taxpayers to pay for the rest. All residents must be informed because these oil wells affect many of our communities.


“I’m proud to co-sponsor Ms. Goldberg’s Resolution to Endorse the Campaign for a Healthy and Safe California and Protect the Los Angeles Unified Community from the Health Impacts of Oil Wells,” states Board Member Dr. George J. McKenna III. “Support of SB 1137 is especially important to me as oil wells are more often located in BIPOC and low-income communities.”


“Oil wells have proven negative health consequences and are disproportionately located in the historically underserved neighborhoods we serve,” says Board Member Kelly Gonez. “I’m proud to co-sponsor this resolution in support of protecting our families and communities from the devastating impacts of oil wells.”


“We have a responsibility to protect our students from the environmental harms of oil and gas production near homes, schools and hospitals,” says Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho. “As an educational institution, we have a moral obligation to provide fair and accurate information to the people of Los Angeles so they can make informed decisions about issues impacting children and their families and, in this particular case, keep these dangerous health hazards away from schools and the students and communities we serve.”


SB 1137 makes existing oil and gas wells safer by meeting tighter health and environmental requirements within 3,200 feet of neighborhoods, schools, daycare centers and healthcare facilities, as well as keeping new wells from being built in these areas. Big Oil is trying to overturn this public safety law by placing a deceptive measure on the November 2024 ballot. 


An independent scientific advisory panel in 2021 informed California officials that a 3,200-foot setback between oil wells and sensitive receptors is the minimum distance to protect public health. Yet nearly 30,000 oil and gas wells in California sit within 3,200 feet of homes, schools, hospitals, and other public areas, exposing nearly 3 million people to emissions that can cause birth defects, respiratory illnesses, and cancer. These oil wells disproportionately impact communities of color, including many Los Angeles Unified families.


Board Member Dr. Rocío Rivas adds, “Big oil has no place anywhere near our schools, nor in our politics. That’s why I support the call to defend against their attacks on legislation that protects our communities from that industry’s health hazards.”


“Our kids deserve to learn and grow in healthy, safe, and clean school environments,” says Board Member Nick Melvoin. “I’m proud that the District is joining the chorus of voices working to ensure that our school communities are free from the hazards posed by proximity to dangerous oil wells.”


“I stand with my colleagues in the fight against environmental injustices and applaud the legislature and community organizations for taking important steps to prevent future harm through SB 1137, Campaign for a Safe and Healthy California,” says Board Member Tanya Ortiz Franklin. “No matter where you live, play, work or go to school, everyone deserves an environment free from toxins from oil and gas wells.”


With today’s vote, the Los Angeles Unified School District joins community organizations, health advocates, environmental justice leaders, faith groups, and labor unions across California who have already voiced their strong support for the campaign to protect Californians from the harmful effects of toxic oil drilling.


For more information about the campaign, please visit