In a press release that was released last Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom revealed that California will work to end oil extraction as part of nation-leading effort to achieve carbon neutrality.
On April 23, 2021, Newsom directed the the Department of Conservation’s Geologic Energy Management (CalGEM) Division to initiate regulatory action to end the issuance of new permits for hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) by January 2024. Additionally, the California Air Resource Board (CARB) will assess how to phase out oil extraction by 2045.
As of May 2019, there were 48,237 active oil and gas production wells in the entire state of California, with 35,355 of these being located in Kern County. In addition, there are 18,171 active cyclic steam wells in California [16,891, Kern County], and 13,768 active EOR and support wells in California [10,096 Kern County].
Fracking has proven to have a negative impact on the environment, with eight of the 25 cities on the list for year round particle pollution being California cities including Bakersfield. Potential risks of fracking include methane emissions from the wells, diesel fumes and other hazardous pollutants, ozone precursors or odors from hydraulic fracturing equipment, such as compressors, pumps, and valves. Fracking can also affect human health.
“The climate crisis is real, and we continue to see the signs every day,” said Newsom. “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.”
Using the Climate Change Scoping Plan, the state’s comprehensive, multi-year regulatory and programmatic plan to achieve required reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, CARB will evaluate pathways to phase out oil extraction throughout the state by no later than 2045. Inclusion of the target in the Scoping Plan means that phasing out oil extraction becomes a part of California’s blueprint to achieve economy-wide carbon neutrality by 2045. CARB will evaluate economic, environmental and health benefits and effects of eliminating oil extraction. CARB’s scoping plan process will be informed by cross-sector collaboration and public input focusing on benefits in disadvantaged communities, opportunities for job creation and economic growth as we achieve carbon neutrality.
Because of this action, opportunities for job creation and economic growth will be imperative. Kern County has a population of 900,000, with about 15,000 people having a job tied to the oil industry.
“The Governor’s unprecedented actions will lead to the loss of thousands of California jobs,” Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) stated in response to Gov. Newsom’s press release. “I am calling on the Governor to provide a detailed ‘Just Transition’ plan for the families and local economies that will face devastating job loss and cuts to social service programs under these new orders.”
The Governor’s announcement comes a month after the Kern County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance that could lead to the approval of more than 40,000 new oil and gas wells over the next 15 years.