For Immediate Release, April 23, 2021

Contact:

Kassie Siegel, (951) 961-7972, ksiegel@biologicaldiversity.org

Newsom Announces Plans to Ban Fracking, Phase Out Oil Extraction in California

SACRAMENTO, Calif.― Gov. Gavin Newsom directed state agencies today to stop issuing new fracking permits by 2024 and analyze pathways to phase out oil extraction in California by 2045.

“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 Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “Californians living next to these dirty and dangerous drilling operations need protection from oil industry pollution today. Every fracking and drilling permit issued does more damage to our health and climate.”

Today’s announcement marks a welcome shift in Gov. Newsom’s position on hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking. Newsom had previously and incorrectly asserted he didn’t have the power to ban fracking, calling on the legislature to do so instead.

Fracking is an ultra-hazardous extraction method that uses a toxic soup of chemicals and extremely high pressure to blast fissures in the earth to extract oil and gas. California joins New York, Maryland and Vermont, and countries including France and Germany, in banning the devastating practice.

Newsom’s directive to study how to phase out all oil and gas production by no later than 2045 is an essential climate policy that has long been neglected. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has concluded that the world must cut emissions by about half by 2030 in order to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius — the point at which scientists predict catastrophic, irreversible consequences. Because 86% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from fossil fuels, sharp limits on fossil fuel production must be enacted to keep warming to below that disastrous threshold.

“Because oil and gas producers already have plans to produce far more oil, gas and coal than the world can afford to burn, no climate policy can succeed unless it limits fossil fuel extraction,” said Siegel. “With California’s robust, diverse economy and clean-technology sector, there’s no place in the world better poised to lead on phasing out oil and gas production.”

Today’s executive order unfortunately fails to specify how and when Newsom will follow through on his promise to address the health harms and environmental injustices caused by neighborhood oil and gas drilling. Environmental justice, health and community leaders have long called for a health-and-safety buffer zone between oil wells and communities to protect against drilling’s health harms.

Gov. Newsom ordered his regulators to study such a health-and-safety rule in November 2019, but they failed to meet the December 2020 deadline he set for action. California is the only major oil-producing state without a minimum setback distance between oil wells and homes.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

 

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