Canvassers working for an oil and gas industry-backed referendum campaign in California gathered signatures to overturn a law requiring larger buffers around oil and gas wells by misleadingly telling people their petition would prevent oil companies from drilling near homes and schools, Inside Climate News report. The referendum to overturn SB117, which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed in September, does not need to win at the ballot box to have an impact. Simply by gathering enough signatures, the oil companies backing the effort can delay enforcement (slated for Jan. 1, 2023) by almost two years, until Californians vote on the measure in November 2024.

More than 2.5 million Californians — about 70% of whom are people of color — live within one-half mile of an oil and gas well. ICN’s report comes as the state’s Department of Water Resources’ first annual water supply and demand assessment found nearly one-in-five urban water agencies expect to not have enough water to meet demand through another seven months of drought. (Inside Climate News; Water shortages: LA Times $; Climate Signals background: Western megadrought)