On Friday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) unveiled a new initiative to ban new and future permits for hydraulic fracking beginning in 2024.
The ban is part of California’s effort to move away from oil extraction to source fuel, focusing on developing renewable sources such as wind and solar.
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the sourcing of oil from deep subterranean rocks, using a high-pressured water mixture drilled into the earth that releases natural gas and oil.
Scientific literature has suggested that fracking contributes to the harmful effects of climate change by releasing methane into the atmosphere, further trapping it in the atmosphere and warming global temperatures.
Newsom offered this as a key motive to halt all oil extraction in the state by 2045.
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“The climate crisis is real, and we continue to see the signs every day,” he said. “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.”
To phase out natural gas and oil harvesting, Newsom instructed the California Air Resources Board to create a blueprint of how the state can shift into sustainable energy sources.
He will also explore the economic implications of beginning to gradually shut down the state’s oil production and use.
Until that time arrives, Newsom also ordered the development of safety regulations to protect workers and communities near oil fields, placing a moratorium on high-pressure hydraulic injections and implementing harsher financial penalties to ensure oil companies safely and effectively close defunct oil wells and fields.
Prior to this announcement, Newsom issued an executive order in September 2020 that would focus on tackling climate change by decarbonizing the state’s transportation infrastructure by 2035.
Zero-emissions vehicles play a major role in this goal.
Some organizations have spoken out in support of Newsom’s plans, with officials from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) saying that Newsom “is rightly acknowledging that California needs to phase out its dinosaur oil extraction industry, starting with the worst forms of it, while protecting communities.”
“For too long, California has been taking the questionable path of trying to meet its climate targets while producing some of the most carbon-intense oil in the world; and leaving suffering communities in its wake,” the statement continued. “We hope the Governor will work closely with impacted stakeholders in making this plan a reality, and will continue to urge the administration to protect vulnerable people immediately by mandating a setback buffer from drilling operations.”
Some local legislators — those whose constituents depend heavily on the economic opportunities brought on by fracking — have taken umbrage with Newsom’s plan.
State Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D) made a statement decrying his decision. She warned that her district could suffer severe economic fallout from the decision to scale back the industry.
“The Governor’s actions could not come at a worse time for the Central Valley, which is already reeling from a drought that – together with this decision – may cause a national food crisis. Energy makes up 19 percent of the American food supply chain,” Hurtado wrote. “Make no doubt the cost of food will increase and severely impact the health of vulnerable communities who are already struggling.”
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