On Friday, California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the nation’s most populous state would phase out fracking in less than three years and explore options to eventually end all oil extraction.
“The climate crisis is real, and we continue to see signs every day,” said Newsom in a statement. “As we move to swiftly decarbonize our transportation sector and create a healthier future for our children, 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.”
Hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, is a technique used to extract natural resources by injecting high-pressure fluid into a target rock formation. The process creates or enlarges fractures in the rocks containing oil and natural gas, allowing fluids to flow more freely into a wellbore to increase production. Some progressive environmentalists claim fracking negatively impacts air and water quality, public health, and can cause seismic events.
NEW: California is now the first state to declare an end to oil extraction in the country.
Today, we’re announcing that we will phase out all oil extraction — as part of a world-leading effort to achieve carbon neutrality — and ban fracking by 2024.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) April 23, 2021
Newsom directed the Department of Conservation’s Geologic Energy Management Division to stop issuing new fracking permits by 2024 and asked the California Air Resources Board to analyze pathways to halt all oil and gas drilling by 2045.
As the Los Angeles Times reported, “Newsom’s announcement comes as a recall campaign against him appears close to qualifying for the ballot and is a reversal from the governor’s previous statements that he lacked the executive authority to ban hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking.” According to the outlet, “Newsom recently decided to use the state’s environmental regulatory authority after efforts to pass the ban legislatively failed, an administration spokesperson said.”
“Certainly the governor’s policy folks will insist we shouldn’t view this through a political lens,” tweeted John Myers, the Sacramento bureau chief for the L.A. Times. “And yet, there’s a tremendous political element to how it’s received. Early reaction from trade unions is not positive and they represent a notable voice in the Dem Party.”
The Times quoted several union leaders who spoke out against Newsom’s directive, saying the move would cost thousands of well-paying jobs and harm local economies in rural oil-producing parts of the state.
John Spaulding is the executive secretary of the Building and Construction Trades Council for Kern, Inyo, and Mono counties.
“Every student, every firefighter and every resident of Kern County will be hurt by the governor’s political announcement today,” he said on Friday. “We will work to oppose this effort for our membership, their families, our schools and our future. I have one question for Gavin Newsom: Are our jobs too dirty for you?”
According to the state Department of Conservation, fracking is responsible for about 2% of California’s oil production.
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