Gov. Newsom aims to phase out fracking; will halt issuance of permits by 2024

State News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGET) — Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Friday through the Department of Conservation’s Geologic Energy Management Division that he intends to end the issuance of new permits for fracking by January 2024.

Newsom also requested that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) look for alternatives to phase out oil extraction across the state by no later than 2045, according to a news release.

Under Newsom’s directive, CalGEM says they will immediately begin to halt the issuance of new hydraulic fracturing permits by 2024.

In a statement, the governor 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.”

Kern almond farmer and Association of Irritated Residents (AIR) President Tom Frantz said “the fracking ban is good,” arguing Newsom’s actions will help the environment.

“These are good things for the air quality and the health of residents,” he said. “We’re going to do this. We’re going to make the planet a better place, and we’re going to be better off economically in the long run.”

But Rachel Glauser with Kern Citizens for Energy said Newsom’s directives will hurt Kern’s oil economy where roughly 25,000 jobs are either directly or indirectly associated with the oil industry.

“The governor’s order is irresponsible,” she said. “It’s going to raise energy rates and kill jobs.” Newsom’s decision, per Glauser, will make the US reliant on oil from foreign nations.

“If crude is not coming from California, it’s going to come from countries with terrible environmental standards. No one does it more safely, more responsible, than Kern County.”

Valley law makers responded to the governor.

Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield):

“The Governor’s unilateral actions without legislative authority is an abuse of power. While I share the vision for a cleaner future, the Governor’s actions today have put the lives, economy and well-being of thousands of California families in jeopardy. The Governor’s actions will lead to people losing their jobs and paychecks and thus their ability to put food on the table to take care of their families. Unfortunately, the Governor’s actions will only lead to more pollution, cost Californians good paying jobs and will force additional imports from tankers from overseas countries who do not share California’s same high standards for environmental protection nor human rights. I am calling on the Governor to provide a detailed ‘Just Transition’ plan for the families and local economies that will face devastating job loss and cuts to social service programs under these new orders.”

Assemblymember Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield):

“This is out-of-touch behavior at its finest. These irresponsible energy policies are the reason why Californians pay the highest gas prices in the nation. Make no mistake, this is a direct attack on the Central Valley—this order kills our jobs, economies, and worsens everyone’s quality of life. California continues to go in the wrong direction with these tone deaf decisions.”

CA Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger):

“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. Make no doubt the cost of food will increase and severely impact the health of vulnerable communities who are already struggling. We cannot repeat the food crisis of 1974. The potential consequences of a food crisis extend beyond the Central Valley and California. We can all do better and be part of the solution.”

CA Sen. Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield):

“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.

In the last 20 years California’s foreign oil imports have tripled and the Governor’s ban on new fracking permits will only cause more reliance on oil and gas imports from foreign countries. The state boasts some of the most stringent environmental regulations in the world, yet when oil and gas is imported from foreign countries such as Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, Columbia and Iraq their standards are nearly non-existent. 

Just a century ago, California was the top oil contributing state in the nation, at one time producing 40% of all oil in the country. Now California is down to a fraction of what it once produced and production is steadily declining. Still, the industry supports more than 350,000 good paying jobs in the state. Governor Newsom’s termination of new fracking permits in the state will force tens of thousands of workers into the unemployment lines and make it harder for families to pay their bills.  

Californians are not lowering their oil and gas consumption at a rate that can sustain using alternative energy. The ban on new fracking permits will cause more reliance on dirty foreign oil, hurt the economy and kill thousands of jobs across the state.”

Kern Board of Supervisors Chairman Phillip Peters:

“Oil and gas jobs contribute $9.2 billion to Kern County’s economy, roughly 14% of our total output. The average annual oil and gas wage in Kern is nearly $81,000 versus the overall average annual wage in Kern of nearly $50,000.  Not only are local oil and gas companies among the top taxpayers in Kern County, but the industry itself contributes nearly $200 million in property tax revenues. These funds are crucial to providing support for government services, special districts and schools in Kern County.  All of the Governor’s energy goals, including renewable energy, lead through Kern County, with our residents footing the bill for all of it, at a devastating price. Banning nearly 20% of California’s energy production is a detriment to our workforce, community, and economy, and relinquishes our power to maintain the highest efficacies in generating the cleanest energy in the world.”

Kern County Supervisor Zack Scrivner:

“Newsom’s announcement today continues his misguided and heartless attack on Kern County communities and families, where the oil and gas industry contributes nearly $200 million in property taxes to local governments and schools, provides 17,000 good-paying direct jobs, and twice that number of indirect jobs. Kern County’s oil and gas industry has the cleanest and safest standard of production in the world, but Newsom inexplicably prefers to supply California’s growing demand for oil from foreign countries with terrible environmental standards and loathsome human rights records. Newsom, and his radical environmentalist allies continue to tell the lie that green energy will replace the lost tax dollars to the County of Kern after they destroy our oil industry, but they refuse to end solar energy’s statewide property tax exclusion, resulting in only $1.5 million in annual property taxes compared to the $80 million annually that oil and gas contribute.” 

Martha Dina Agruello, Executive Director for the Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles:

“We welcome this historic announcement that we need a just transition away from oil.  Yet we are acutely aware of the slow and often exclusionary nature of regulatory processes. Communities need immediate relief to the heath assaults of oil and gas extraction in the form of an immediate 2500 foot health and safety buffer. Justice delayed is justice denied.”

Dan Ress, staff attorney with the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment:

“With today’s executive order, Governor Newsom has committed to a public process to guide the managed decline of oil and gas production in California, and that is a bold step back into climate leadership after the legislature’s failure on SB 467 last week. We’re looking forward to engaging with the administration on both the timeline and pathways of this plan, and we will push very hard to phase out extraction on a tighter time frame and in a manner that prioritizes communities and mitigating environmental racism. As a first step, we call on the governor to create an emergency rule creating 2500 foot oil and gas setbacks from homes, schools, hospitals, and other sensitive receptors.”

Read Gov. Gavin Newsom’s full press release below:

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today directed the Department of Conservation’s Geologic Energy Management (CalGEM) Division to initiate regulatory action to end the issuance of new permits for hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) by January 2024. Additionally, Governor Newsom requested that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) 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,” Governor Newsom 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.”

Under today’s directive, CalGEM will immediately initiate the rulemaking to halt the issuance of new hydraulic fracturing permits by 2024. 

Under Governor Newsom’s direction, CARB will evaluate how to phase out oil extraction by 2045 through the Climate Change scoping plan, the state’s comprehensive, multi-year regulatory and programmatic plan to achieve required reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Inclusion of the target in the Scoping Plan means that phasing out oil extraction becomes a part of California’s blueprint to achieve economy-wide carbon neutrality by 2045. CARB will evaluate economic, environmental and health benefits and effects of eliminating oil extraction. CARB’s scoping plan process will be informed by cross-sector collaboration and public input focusing on benefits in disadvantaged communities, opportunities for job creation and economic growth as we achieve carbon neutrality. 

In advance of the phase-out of fracking in 2024, CalGEM’s process for reviewing permits for this practice is the most stringent in the country, and includes input from experts at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. More on the permit review process is available here.

Permit approvals and resulting hydraulic fracturing activity are at the lowest level since the Legislature enacted Senate Bill 4 in 2014 to strengthen regulation of hydraulic fracturing.

In addition to instituting more rigorous review of hydraulic fracturing permit applications, CalGEM continues to operationalize its updated mandate to protect public health and the environment. This includes:

  • Developing a new health and safety regulation to protect workers and communities near oil fields.
  • Implementing new regulations that prohibit surface expressions and placing a moratorium on high-pressure cyclic steam injection, which has been linked to surface expressions.
  • Integrating independent experts from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Department of Finance’s Office of State Audits and Evaluation to recommend further improvements to CalGEM’s permitting process.
  • Increasing financial bonding requirements on oil companies to ensure adequate closure of defunct wells and clean-up of inactive oil fields.

Earlier this week, the California Environmental Protection Agency announced the release of two independent studies that identify strategies to support the state’s goal to dramatically reduce transportation fossil fuel demand and supply by 2045. The studies analyze the health and safety impacts associated with pollution originating from the extraction and processing of oil and will inform CARB’s scoping plan.

Today’s actions build on the Governor’s September 2020 executive order which called for an end to fracking and to accelerate California’s transition away from gasoline-powered cars and trucks and reduce demand for fossil fuels. The order also directed agencies to:

  • Develop and implement a just transition roadmap.
  • Propose strategies to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels beyond 2030 with consideration of the full life cycle of carbon.
  • Expedite regulatory processes to repurpose and transition upstream and downstream oil production facilities, while supporting community participation, labor standards, and protection of public health, safety and the environment.

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