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Environment

California Governor Moves To Ban Fracking By 2024

A fracking site in Kern County, Calif. Fracking — short for hydraulic fracturing — is the process of extracting oil deep underground using a high-pressure water mixture to break up rock.
A fracking site in Kern County, Calif. Fracking — short for hydraulic fracturing — is the process of extracting oil deep underground using a high-pressure water mixture to break up rock.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced plans to ban hydraulic fracturing by 2024 as part of a longer-term aim to end all oil extraction in the state.

The governor has ordered the state's top oil regulator to implement regulation to stop issuing new fracking permits by 2024. He has also directed the state's air resources agency to look at ways to phase out oil extraction completely 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."

The plan aligns with the state's broader goal to reach net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2045.

Newsom's order follows a more aggressive plan to ban oil and gas production that died in the state Senate last week.

Following the bill's failure, Rock Zierman, CEO of the California Independent Petroleum Association, told The Desert Sun that it would have killed tens of thousands of jobs "in parts of the state that are struggling in this post-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.

Under Newson's plan, the state's Air Resources Board will assess the economic, environmental and health benefits and effects of ending oil extraction.

In September, Newsom said that fracking accounts for less than 2% of the state's oil production, but that the plan to end the practice is a "symbolic" step. However, some industry groups put that figure at closer to 20%.

The governor has previously said that he lacks the executive authority to ban fracking and has looked to legislators to approve limits.

Now, Newsom is leveraging his authority to take on the state's powerful oil and gas giants during a year in which he will likely face a recall election.

California would be the largest oil-producing state to ban fracking. Environmentalist groups — who argue that fracking drains water levels, harms public health and contributes to global warming — say the 2024 and 2045 deadlines are too late.

"While precedent setting, both timelines are not aggressive enough," California's Sierra Club said in a statement. "They fail to meet the urgency of the climate crisis we face and protect frontline communities facing the brunt of fossil fuel pollution that still need immediate health and safety protections."

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