New legislation would ban all fracking in California by 2027, taking aim at the oil and gas industry in a state already planning to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035.
California also requires solar panels on new homes and passed a law to make the nation’s most populated state rely entirely on renewable energy by 2045.
Last year, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom announced steps to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars and called on lawmakers to go further by banning fracking, a technique used to extract oil and gas embedded in deep underground rock that climate groups say harms the environment.
Two state senators on Wednesday announced a measure that would halt new fracking permits or renewals by Jan. 1 and ban the practice altogether by 2027.
Democratic state Sens. Scott Wiener of San Francisco and Monique Limon of Santa Barbara also say they will change the bill next month to halt new oil and gas permits within 2,500 feet of homes or schools by Jan. 1.
“This is real. It is harming so many people, and the time to deal with it in the future is over. We need to deal with it now,” Wiener said.
The oil and gas industry quickly pushed back.
Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president and CEO of the Western States Petroleum Association, said the legislation was “so broad and ambiguous” it would “lead to a total [oil] production ban in California.”
Rock Zierman, CEO of the California Independent Petroleum Association, called the measure “legally questionable.”
“Shutting down energy production under the toughest regulations on the planet will devastate the economies of oil-producing regions,” Zierman said.
California was once among the top oil-producing states in the country, reaching a peak of 394 million barrels in 1985.
It now ranks behind Texas, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado and Alaska, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
What’s left of California’s oil is embedded deep underground, with extraction requiring processes like fracking, cyclic steaming, acid well stimulation and water and steam flooding — all of which would be banned by 2027 under the new legislation.
Environmental groups say those methods can harm air quality and water supplies.
“We must stop doing what we know causes death and disease,” said Dr. Karina Maher, a pediatrician in Los Angeles who works with the advocacy group Climate Health Now.
Wiener said it makes sense to start preparing for the eventual decline of the oil and gas industry.
“It’s a declining industry. And instead of waiting for it to eventually decline and fall apart, let’s get ahead of it, facilitate the phasing out and help the workers,” Wiener said.
But critics say halting the state’s oil production won’t stop the state’s reliance on oil.
State Sen. Shannon Grove, a Republican whose district includes parts of Kern County, said that if the bill becomes law, it would force the state to “rely on foreign countries with dismal human rights records that barely let women drive and have little to no regard for the environment.”
Republican Assemblyman Vince Fong, who also represents Kern County, said California produces oil “in the most environmentally responsible way.”
“At a time like now, when we need to be revitalizing our economy, I don’t quite understand why we would be pushing legislation that eliminates jobs in our state,” he said.
Democratic President Joe Biden, meanwhile, has been criticized for imposing a temporary moratorium on new oil drilling on federal land.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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