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Some groups want to limit wells in residential areas

Regardless of where a person owns land in California, he or she wants to be able to exercise full rights to the surface of the land, and the resources underneath. OilPrice.com notes that the petroleum industry is a major player in the state's economy, employing hundreds of thousands of workers and contributing significantly to California's GDP. Those who own mineral rights expect to be able to cash in on the assets that are legally theirs.

However, according to Southern California Public Radio, at least one major municipality wants to place strict regulations on where and how oil and gas extraction companies can operate within the city.

Los Angeles activists have commissioned a study regarding the health and safety aspects of urban oil drilling. They believe that residents of the city who live within 2,500 feet of wells and other facilities may be at risk for health issues from fumes and other contaminants, such as the waste water that is used in hydraulic fracturing methods.

Perhaps the city is right to address some concerns. However, most municipalities that implement setback policies only apply them to future wells. Placing restrictions on existing wells could have a detrimental effect on the industry in the area, as well as on the economy of the city.

Those in the petroleum industry argue that removing all wells that cannot be set 2,500 feet from residential areas will result in the loss of 90 percent of the active wells in the city. This could result in many owners essentially having their assets illegally seized. 

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