Arnold Schwarzenegger Teams Up with Jane Fonda and Governor Newsom to Support Oil Well Buffer Zones

On March 22nd, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jane Fonda, and Governor Gavin Newsom teamed up to speak at an event about oil and gas wells. The event took place at Kenneth Hahn Recreation Area Soccer Fields, overlooking the Inglewood Oil Fields. As pump jacks operated in the background, right next to the park, playgrounds and homes, Schwarzenegger, Fonda, and Newsom discussed Senate Bill 1137.

Senate Bill 1137 (SB 1137) is currently at risk after a veto referendum qualified for the November 2024 ballot. The new referendum aims to overturn the law, thus repealing SB 1137 and allowing new oil and gas wells to continue to be built next to homes, schools, and hospitals. Currently more that 2.7 million Californians live within the 3,200 feet buffer zone in California, and 70% of them are people of color. Even more Californians work near these wells, both in the oil industry itself and at schools, healthcare facilities, and countless other professions.

Executive Director of Communities for a Better Environment Darryl Molina Sarmiento and Supervisor Holly Mitchell kicked off the event by giving impassioned speeches about why they care so much about this law and why they think it is important to keep it. From there, Dr. Lorenzo Gonzalez, a Street Medicine Physician for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services and a USC Price School alumnus, talked about how he sees the negative health impact oil and gas wells have on his patients.

Next, Dr. Gonzalez introduced Jane Fonda who took to the stage to talk about her passion for keeping SB 1137. She said that she met a young woman named Nalleli Cobo who grew up next to an oil well and suffered extreme health issues from it. Fonda wanted to make sure this did not happen to anyone else. She brought Cobo to the stage to share her story about growing up next to the oil well. Cobo suffered countless nose bleeds growing up before being diagnosed with reproductive cancer. These health impacts are also the reason she is active in environmental justice, trying to make sure no other children have to go through what she did.

After speaking, Cobo introduced Governor Schwarzenegger who thanked her for her powerful remarks. Schwarzenegger addressed the similarities between this ballot initiative and the Prop 23 Ballot Initiative in 2010 that tried to stop AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act. He said the people of California beat big oil on the ballot then and will do so again this November.

Governor Newsom closed out the event by talking about the environmental legacy of California and how governor after governor, both Republican and Democrat, have continued to push for progressive environmental policies that prioritize the health and safety of Californians. He hopes that SB 1137 will continue that legacy.