Romo v. Brown
In July of 2015, Rodrigo Romo a father of children attending schools in Kern County surrounded by dangerous fracking and oil wells sued the Governor of California Jerry Brown and the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources under California Government Code section 11135, represented by CRPE.
California’s Government Code section 11135 prohibits the state from intentional or unintentional discrimination on the basis of race. Through the suit, Romo, on behalf of himself and his two minor daughters that suffer severe respiratory health impacts associated with oil drilling, challenged the state’s adoption of inadequate fracking and well stimulation regulations because they disproportionately burden Latino students and students of color.
While the Court initially dismissed the lawsuit, and Romo decided to keep fighting and filed an appeal in December 2015. The appeal to the Third Appellate District focuses on whether the Sacramento Superior Court, that refused to take the case, ruled in error and whether the policy concerns and cases the judge cited in his decision were an abuse of his discretion.
In California, fracking overwhelmingly occurs close to schools that serve predominately Latino populations. More than sixty percent of the 61,612 California children who attend school within one mile of a stimulated well are Latino. Statewide, Latino students are over thirty-four percent more likely to attend a school within a mile and a half of a stimulated well than non-Latino students.
Romo’s two daughters have been exposed to dangerous levels of toxic pollution and psychological stress from extreme well stimulation while attending public schools in Shafter and Wasco, California.
Sequoia Elementary School, the school both of Romo’s daughters attended, is located within a half mile of three separate fracked wells, with one well less than 1,200 feet from the school. Students are often forced to stay inside for long periods of time because of the noxious fumes associated with fracking and many students suffer from serious, unexplainable illnesses that many families believe are caused by the wells.
California’s Division of Oil Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) has a mandate to protect the life and health of all Californians. Romo v. Brown aims to hold Governor Brown and state regulators accountable for protecting the health and safety of California’s students.