Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Friday that he will be banning all new fracking permits in California by 2024 by using his executive authority and added that he will look into halting all oil extraction in the state by 2045.
Governor Newsom’s announcement came a week after a California Senate Committee voted down SB 467, a bill that would have stopped fracking in the state by 2027. Many felt the bill had gone too far in the bans, including new well drilling nearby populated areas, and lost much support after labor unions opposed the bill.
While fracking has often come up for a ban, including another total ban on the practice in 2014 nearly making it into law in the legislature, the need for local oil and pressure from unions and rural legislators from both parties had kept it at bay.
This all changed Friday with Newsom’s executive action. Specifically, Newsom’s action will begin the ban in 2024 under the California Department of Conservation’s Geologic Energy Management (CalGEM) Division, giving them 3 years to craft the specified mandate. Meanwhile, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is to evaluate and come up with a plan on how to end all oil drilling in the state by 2045. Foreseeing opposition to such a plan, Newsom said that his administration will figure out what to do about projected job loss and local economic loss caused by the ban, with CARB to find out what exactly what an oil extraction ban will do to the state economically and environmentally, as well as what health benefits there are.
While only 83 fracking permits were issued last year, compared with 220 being issued in 2016, the oil and gas industry is still very large in California. Currently the industry employs roughly 152,000 people in the state, generating $152.3 billion in economic output each year.
Newsom has previously issued many executive decisions on environmental matters, such as his executive order last year banning the sale of all gas powered cars in the state by 2035, but his announcement on Friday has proven to be his farthest reaching one yet in his term as Governor.
“The climate crisis is real, and we continue to see the signs every day,” said Governor Newsom in a statement on Friday. “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.”
Praise from environmentalists, outrage from oil and gas industry
Many environmental groups and and many lawmakers applauded the Governor’s decision on Friday, specifically praising his direct action in helping fight climate change.
“Governor Newsom’s ban on fracking and announcement to phase out of oil extraction is the consistent leadership our state needs if we stand a chance of preventing major climate catastrophe,” noted California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV) CEO Mary Creasman on Friday. “As wildfire season approaches, this is the critical next step that California must take in addressing the driving cause of the climate crisis head on–our dependence on oil and gas.”
However, the oil and gas industry, many unions, and several lawmakers blasted his announcement on Friday, noting not only the economic harm and the need Californians have for cheaper oil and gas, but also pointing out how this would only lead to more oil importation from countries with even worse environmental records.
“California’s oil and gas consumption has only been reduced by a miniscule amount in over 30 years. For the Governor to destroy these good paying jobs and import oil from countries with abysmal human rights and environmental records is completely irresponsible,” said Senator Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) in a statement on Friday.
Others noted that this may ultimately backfire on Newsom as well.
“He just pissed off over 150,000 voters who are in the industry. He just signaled to them that he doesn’t want them to have a job,” Tim Guthrie, who helps organize wildcat oil drillers in several states, told the Globe. “That’s not mentioning all the periphery jobs surrounding the industry who rely on it.”
“And, when you take a look at it, these industry workers are in rural areas like Kern County or out in the desert, or in urban areas such as Los Angeles, or offshore. But the fact of the matter is this is a giant industry, that pumps in billions into California, and helps keep gas prices as low as they are in the state right now. Newsom wants to dismantle all of that.”
“He just made a long list of enemies and pissed off voters in a year with a recall election. All you have to do is remind them what Newsom is trying to do the the industry in California, and suddenly he has a lot to worry about. Especially if the next Governor nixes everything he did.”
More details on the fracking ban and 2045 oil extraction ban are expected in the coming weeks.