California Governor Gavin Newsom is today expected to announce a ban on new hydraulic fracturing permits, Politico reports, citing unnamed sources in the know.
The move follows the state Senate rejecting a bill that would have banned not only hydraulic fracturing but most conventional oil and gas drilling, too.
The sponsors of the bill that enjoyed strong support from environmentalist organizations said, as quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle, they were “extremely disappointed”.
While popular among environmentalists and climate change advocates, however, the anti-fracking bill was the opposite of popular among other groups, including labor unions and legislators who were worried about its negative effect on employment in California’s oil industry. The state is the nation’s seventh-largest producer of crude oil.
Now, Politico’s sources say that Newsom’s plan is to ban new fracking permits by 2024. To do this, he could use his emergency powers or order state regulators to implement the ban.
The state’s oil industry has substantial influence over Central Valley legislators, the Los Angeles Times noted in a report on the failed bill. At the same time, trade unions are a force to be reckoned with in the Democratic Party. The daily also noted Governor Newsom’s vocal support for the bill, which was basically a more aggressive version of an anti-frack proposal he had. Newsom’s proposal envisaged a ban on hydraulic fracturing and the establishment of buffer zones around conventional wells to protect nearby communities.
Newsom is facing an almost certain recall election in the fall and is finding himself between a rock and a hard place, according to the Politico report. On the one hand, he needs to please environmentally conscious Californias so they would vote for him. On the other, the oil industry has the means to sponsor his challengers generously and threaten his re-election.
Fracking constitutes only a minuscule part of California’s total oil production but has become the preferred target for environmentalists during the U.S. fracking revolution.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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