The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Jessica Gable

Newsom Directs Agencies to Stop New Fracking Permits By 2024, Skirting Full Ban

Measure does nothing to regulate or challenge current oil and gas leases


Today California Governor Gavin Newsom once more declined to use his executive power to ban fracking, opting instead to direct CALGem to phase out new fracking permits by January 2024 and phase out oil extraction by 2045. These measures fall far short of demands, failing to address more than 242,000 state-regulated wells already in operation. The move underscores Newsom's efforts to rebuild his reputation as a climate leader after a fracking ban died in the legislature, lacking his support.

"While it is significant that for the first time Governor Newsom is acknowledging the need to ban fracking and his authority to do it, this announcement is a half measure as it allows continued drilling and fracking for the next two and a half years. It comes after years of pressure and dedicated organizing by thousands of Californians who want a just transition away from fracking now," said Food & Water Watch California Director Alexandra Nagy. "Directing his regulatory agencies to do the work over two and a half years that the governor can do today is more of the dodging we've seen from Newsom during his entire tenure. Phasing out oil drilling is absolutely necessary, but 2045 is a long way off. Until then, Newsom leaves Californians on the frontlines to pay for the oil industry's scars on the landscape and damage to community health. He needs to use the authority the law has given him to stop issuing all new oil and gas permits, ban fracking completely and phase out oil drilling now starting with a 2,500 foot health and safety buffer between wells and sensitive sites. Newsom needs to protect our water supplies as we head into a destructive drought and guard our frontline communities from further harm."

In 2020, Newsom approved 83 fracking permits for 608 individual fracking events, according to state regulators at CalGEM. This was out of 3,745 total permits for oil and gas wells in 2020. In total Governor Newsom has approved 8,129 drilling permits since taking office. 85 percent of those living within 2,500 feet of an oil well are Hispanic or non-white. 90 percent of California's fracked land is owned by the state and unaffected by President Biden's January executive order pausing the issuance of leases on federal land.

Food & Water Watch mobilizes regular people to build political power to move bold and uncompromised solutions to the most pressing food, water, and climate problems of our time. We work to protect people's health, communities, and democracy from the growing destructive power of the most powerful economic interests.

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