November 17, 2021
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Gov. Newsom Orders End To New Fracking Permits In California In 2024


California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered a state agency to halt issuing fracking permits by 2024 and tasked another with studying options to end oil extraction in the state by 2045, a move that environmental groups say isn’t aggressive enough to address climate change.

Key Facts

Newsom’s order directs the Department of Conservation’s Geologic Energy Management to stop issuing fracking permits by 2024 and asks the California Air Resources Board to evaluate “pathways” for phasing out oil extraction by 2045.

Newsom previously said he didn’t have the authority to issue a statewide ban on fracking and wanted the state legislature to take action, but a bill to ban the drilling technique failed to make it out of committee earlier this month and it’s unclear now what legal rationale Newsom is using to take action himself.

Fracking accounts for roughly 20% of the state’s oil and gas production, and a ban is heavily opposed by trade unions as well as the oil and gas industry, which warn it will cost jobs, raise gas prices and force California to rely on oil from other places that don’t have as rigorous environmental safeguards for oil extraction.

Environmental groups, meanwhile, say Newsom’s timeline isn’t fast enough and would prefer an immediate fracking ban to combat the climate crisis.

Crucial Quote

“I’ve made it clear I don’t see a role for fracking in that future and similarly, believe that California needs to move beyond oil,” Newsom said in a statement.

Chief Critics

The oil industry already plans to challenge the order in court. “Once again, Governor Newsom has chosen to ignore science, data and facts to govern by bans, mandates and personal fiat. Banning nearly 20% of the energy production in our state will only hurt workers, families and communities in California and turns our energy independence over to foreign suppliers,” Catherine Reheis-Boyd, CEO of Western States Petroleum Association, said.

The Sierra Club, on the other hand, criticized the governor for moving too slowly and called on the state to enact a 2,500-foot buffer zone between existing wells and sensitive facilities like homes and schools. “While precedent setting, both timelines are not aggressive enough. They fail to meet the urgency of the climate crisis we face and protect frontline communities facing the brunt of fossil fuel pollution that still need immediate health and safety protections,” the organization said in a statement.

Key Background

California has long positioned itself as an environmental leader, but activists have pressured the governor to move faster on the issue of fracking, especially as his office continued to issue permits last year. California is the seventh-largest oil producing state in the country, and although its oil output has decreased by about two-thirds since its peak in 1986, the industry employs 152,000 people directly and produces $152.3 billion in economic activity, according to a 2019 study from the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.