By Staff Reporters, PRESS TV
April 24, 2021
Climate action advocates have cautiously praised California Governor Gavin Newsom's plan to ban hydraulic fracturing by 2024, but stressed that the move is still a half-measure as it allows continued oil drilling for the next two-and-a-half years.
The Democratic governor announced on Friday that he had directed California’s top oil regulator to implement regulation to stop issuing new fracking permits by 2024, as part of a broader policy to completely cut out oil extraction by 2045.
“The climate crisis is real, and we continue to see the signs every day,” Newsom said in a Friday 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.”
Alexandra Nagy, director of Food & Water Watch California—an advocacy group fighting for safe food, water and renewable energy in California—said the governor’s action was significant but expressed frustration with Newsom’s refusal to immediately ban fracking by executive order.
“This announcement is a half-measure as it allows continued drilling and fracking for the next two-and-a-half years," Nagy said. "Directing his regulatory agencies to do the work over two-and-a-half years that the governor can do today is more of the dodging we've seen from Newsom during his entire tenure,” Nagy said.
Since taking office in January 2019, Newsom has approved over 8,600 oil and gas well permits, according to Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker's "Newsom Well Watch" website. However, the governor has long been under pressure to end fracking—which involves drilling down into the earth and fracturing of bedrock formations by a pressurized liquid to extract oil.
Thank you @GavinNewsom for listening to low-income residents and the communities of color who have been advocating for an end to dangerous drilling in our communities for years.
— Greenlining (@Greenlining) April 23, 2021
“It's historic and globally significant that Gov. Newsom has committed California to phase out fossil fuel production and ban fracking, but we don't have time for studies and delays,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Climate Law Institute at the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement.
Climate and public health groups in California insist that in addition to a complete and immediate ban on new permits for fossil fuel drilling, the state must move to stablish a 2,500-foot health and safety buffer around oil wells to mitigate the deadly impacts of neighborhood drilling.
Following today's ban on fracking, @GavinNewsom now has the chance to do what no Governor in California has been able to do so far: establish health buffers for Californians and end a shameful century-long history of neighborhood oil & gas drilling #CAGovhttps://t.co/O1FSH1y2wx
— Stacey Geis (@StaceyGeis) April 23, 2021
Oil companies and other critics, however, say that the governor’s plan will kill thousands of jobs in parts of California that are struggling to function in the post COVID-19 pandemic economy.
“We will continue to oppose bills that only increase our reliance on foreign oil which drives up gas prices, contributes to pollution in our crowded ports, and is produced without California's environmental protections or humanitarian values,” he said.
Newsom's order follows a more aggressive plan to ban oil and gas production that failed to pass the state Senate last week.
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