Gov. Newsom plans to ban fracking by 2024, oil extraction by 2045
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday that he is taking action to phase out oil extraction in California.
He directed the Department of Conservation’s Geologic Energy Management Division to initiate regulatory action to end the issuance of new permits for hydraulic fracturing (fracking) by January 2024, and requested that the California Air Resources Board analyze pathways to phase out oil extraction across the state by no later than 2045.
“The climate crisis is real, and we continue to see the signs every day,” Gov. Newsom said in a press release. “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.”
The oil phase out by 2045 will be dictated by the Climate Change scoping plan, the state’s multi-year regulatory and programmatic plan to achieve required reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that evaluates economic, environmental and health benefits and effects of eliminating oil extraction.
Sens. Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara, and Scott Weiner, D-San Francisco, released a joint statement following the governor’s announcement.
“We’re thankful the governor is acting to end fracking in California by 2025 and to plan for the end of all oil production by 2045,” the statement read. “While we believe an earlier end date is appropriate, at least having a set end date will trigger the long-overdue conversation about what a transition away from oil looks like.
“To date, political paralysis has prevented that conversation from happening. We hope the governor’s action today breaks that political logjam. Legislative action likely will still be needed, and we’re ready to move that legislation.”
The senators added that because 2045 is 24 years away, they’re urging the governor to ban oil extraction close to people’s homes and schools to protect the health of communities.
“We need to promptly mandate 2,500 buffer zones around homes, schools and other sensitive uses,” the statement said.
The senators sought to mandate this buffer zone and to implement a phased ending to fracking and cyclic steam practices in a bill they authored that was shot down in recent weeks. The bill would have prohibited the issuance of new or renewed permits for specific extraction methods starting in January 2022 and banned all practices by January 2027.
Sens. Limon and Weiner went on to say in their statement, “Fracking and other extreme oil extraction practices — particularly cyclic steam and steam and water flooding — are harming our communities and undermining meaningful climate action. These are the dominant forms of extraction in California. Our frontline communities are paying the price every day for our addiction to oil. It’s time for California to lead decisively in the movement for 100% clean energy.”
Spokespeople from the Environmental Defense Center, Sierra Club and Santa Barbara County Action Network joined in praising the announcement of the governor, and called for action to be taken sooner.
“The governor’s acknowledgment today that ‘California needs to move beyond oil’ is exactly right, but we must move quicker, and a fracking ban is only one piece of the puzzle,” said Tara Messing, staff attorney with the Environmental Defense Center. “We can’t risk another two decades of dangerous oil extraction, like cyclic steam injection and steam flooding, that threaten our communities’ water and air, and our state’s mosaic of natural resources.”
Concerns were raised with the state’s upcoming decision on oil companies’ requested Cat Canyon Aquifer Exemption, which the environmental groups argue could open the door for a “massive expansion of dangerous steam injection operations in the Cat Canyon Oil field in Santa Barbara County.” In a press release, they alleged that this exemption would allow oil and gas operators to inject steam and millions of gallons of toxic wastewater into aquifers beneath Cat Canyon, contaminating drinking water for more than 150,000 county residents.
“We already have evidence of oil wells in Cat Canyon leaking toxic fluids, threatening to irreparably contaminate the Santa Maria Valley’s drinking water,” said Ken Hough, executive director of SBCAN. “The governor’s announcement does not change the fact that this exemption would allow for more dangerous oil extraction at the expense of our clean water.”
California would be the largest oil-producing state to ban fracking, and while many environmentalists condemn the drilling practices used beneath the Santa Maria Aquaphor in North County, opponents argue that a ban would negatively impact the economy.
However, many climate advocates are on the opposite end and believe more aggressive legislation and tactics should be implemented.
“Phasing out both oil production and use is essential and must start now,” said Katie Davis, chair of the Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter. “First step is to do no more harm. The state must not grant new aquifer exemptions, such as the one pending in Cat Canyon, that would open up new areas to dangerous, enhanced drilling through our critical drinking water aquifers.”