California state senator introduces law to ban fracking by 2027

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New legislation would ban all hydraulic fracturing in California by 2027, targeting the state’s powerful oil and gas industry which already plans to prohibit the sale new petrol cars by 2035.

Progressive California has long been a leader in the fight against climate change, demanding solar panels on new homes and passing legislation to make the nation’s most populous state fully dependent on renewable energy by 2045.

But environmental groups say California officials – especially governors – have long had a blind spot for the oil and gas industry, which has wielded immense political power on several occasions to kill or weaken legislation to cut production. .

It could change. Last year, Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom announced measures to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars and called on lawmakers to go further by banning new permits for hydraulic fracturing, a technique for extracting oil and gas. gases embedded in rock deep below the surface that the climate groups say harms the environment and threatens public health.

Two state senators responded to the call on Wednesday, announcing a measure that would end new hydraulic fracturing permits or renewals by January 1 and ban the practice altogether by 2027. Democratic state senators Scott Wiener from San Francisco and Monique Limon from Santa Barbara have also said they will. amend the bill next month to suspend new oil and gas permits within 2,500 feet (762 meters) of homes or schools by January 1.

“It’s real. It hurts so many people, and the time to face it in the future is over. We have to deal with it now,” Wiener said.

The oil and gas industry shrank rapidly. Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president and CEO of the Western States Petroleum Association, said the legislation was “so broad and ambiguous” that it “would lead to a total ban on (petroleum) production in California.”

Rock Zierman, CEO of the California Independent Petroleum Association, called the measure “legally questionable.”

“Shutting down energy production under the strictest regulations on the planet will devastate the economies of oil-producing regions,” Zierman said.

Newsom, speaking at an independent press conference in Coachella Valley, said he had yet to read the proposal and was “unable to comment on it.”

California was among the top oil-producing states in the country, peaking at 394 million barrels in 1985. But by 2017, production had dropped significantly and now ranks behind Texas, North Dakota, New Mexico , Oklahoma, Colorado and Alaska. , according to the US Energy Information Administration.

Part of the reason is that the industry has depleted much of California’s easily extractable oil reserves. What remains is buried deep in the underground rock which requires immense energy to be extracted. This includes using processes such as hydraulic fracturing, cyclic steaming, stimulating acid wells, and flooding water and steam to separate oil from rock – all processes that would be banned by 2027 under the new legislation.

“It’s one of the dirtiest oils in the world,” said Hollin Kretzmann, an attorney at the Climate Law Institute at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Environmental groups say these methods can significantly affect air quality and water supplies. A study published this month by a team at Harvard University estimated that 8.7 million people worldwide died prematurely from fossil fuel pollution in 2018, including 34,000 people in California, The Desert Sun in Palm Springs. reported.

“We need to stop doing what we know causes death and disease,” said Dr. Karina Maher, a pediatrician in Los Angeles who works with advocacy group Climate Health Now.

But critics say stopping the state’s oil production won’t stop the state’s dependence on oil, as millions of people still drive gasoline-powered cars. State Senator Shannon Grove, a Republican whose district includes parts of Kern County, said if the bill becomes law it would force the state to “rely on foreign countries with records. dismal human rights issues that barely let women drive and have little or no respect for the environment.

Republican Congressman Vince Fong, who also represents Kern County, said California produces oil “in the most environmentally friendly way.”

“At a time like now, when we need to revitalize our economy, I don’t quite understand why we would push for legislation that cuts jobs in our state,” he said.

California has more than 5,500 oil wells that have likely been abandoned and could cost more than half a billion dollars to clean up, according to an assessment by the California Council on Science and Technology. For companies that end up doing this work, the law would require the state to offer them undefined “incentives” to hire laid-off oil and gas workers.

Wiener says it makes sense to start preparing for the eventual decline of the oil and gas industry and try to avoid the fate of the coal industry, whose decline has devastated communities in the Appalachian region.

“It’s a declining industry. And instead of waiting for it to eventually decline and collapse, let’s get ahead, facilitate the phase-out and help the workers, ”Wiener said.

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