Facing a recall vote in part because of the restrictions he put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus beginning 13 months ago, Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom in an executive action recently ordered the state’s 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.
The governor also requested that the California Air Resources Board take a close look at “pathways to phase out oil extraction across the state” by 2045 or earlier.
“The climate crisis is real, and we continue to see the signs every day,” 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.”
Catherine Reheis-Boyd, who heads the Western States Petroleum Association, a trade group representing oil companies, has a different view.
“Once again, Governor Newsom has chosen to ignore science, data and facts to govern by bans, mandates and personal fiat,” Reheis-Boyd said in an email to The Center Square. “Banning nearly twenty percent of the energy production in our state will only hurt workers, families and communities in California and turns our energy independence over to foreign suppliers.”
Moving the Golden State away from oil by 2045 is too late to protect children in frontline and fenceline communities from deadly pollution, according to a letter from the Elected Officials of America.
“The science is clear that phasing out fossil fuel production is urgently needed to address climate change and protect public health,” the letter reads. “It is imperative that California issue no new permits and establish public health setbacks for existing oil and gas drilling. Production of oil and gas is a significant contributor to California’s greenhouse gas emissions.”
According to the EOA, the gas and oil industry contributes under 0.9% of California’s gross domestic product and 0.2% of employment. But the WSPA is skeptical of Newsom’s energy orders and resolved to resist them.
“Through all means possible,” according to Reheis-Boyd, “we will join with workers, community leaders and others who wish to protect access to safe, affordable and reliable energy to fight this harmful and unlawful mandate. We will be a key part of an equitable energy future for California.”
State Sen. Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, also opposes the governor's mandate.
“California’s oil and gas consumption has only been reduced by a miniscule amount in over 30 years,” Grove said in a statement. “For the governor to destroy these good paying jobs and import oil from countries with abysmal human rights and environmental records is completely irresponsible.”
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