In a big step forward in California’s progress towards meeting its climate and health harming carbon pollution reduction goals, Governor Newsom put a moratorium on issuing new fracking permits (for two different fracking technologies). He also suspended pending fracking permits until the projects can be reviewed by an independent panel comprised of scientists, thereby increasing state oversight over oil extraction. Fracking, and other extreme extraction technologies, have long concerned scientists, health professionals, environmentalists and especially communities directly impacted by these toxic operations, which are predominantly communities of color. Fracking produces emissions that accelerate the climate crisis, particularly methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and also creates unacceptable, unhealthy impacts on our water, soil, food crops, and air quality.
Governor Newsom also accelerated the process of shutting down Aliso Canyon, the massive underground natural gas storage facility which experienced a catastrophic, 3-month long leak, the largest methane blowout in California history in 2015-16, leading to the evacuation of more than 8,000 people, and extended health impacts. In addition to the major leak starting in 2015, Aliso Canyon experienced more than 60 previous less well-known and smaller leaks prior to that.
In a Nov 18, 2019 letter to Marybel Batjer, the President of the CA Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), Governor Newsom directed the CPUC to “expedite planning for the permanent closure of … Aliso Canyon,” and to engage an independent team to identify options for closing the natural gas storage facility. He further directed the independent team to find ways to replace natural gas use, including all-electric options for some part of the demand.
350 Bay Area’s core mission is to eliminate carbon pollution in a swift and just way, and we work in the region’s communities to push back on the fossil fuel industry’s efforts to expand operations in our neighborhoods. We have worked to stop fracking since 2013, first at the state legislature and later helping communities on fracking ban initiatives (eg, San Benito, Santa Barbara (did not pass), Mendocino, Monterey, San Luis Obispo (did not pass), and stopping “water flooding” drilling in eastern Alameda County.
“350 Bay Area celebrates this announcement today and we thank Governor Newsom for his decisive actions, without which we could not hope to meet California’s esteemed and ambitious climate goals. We know that much more work is needed to successfully address the climate crisis, and look forward to the just, clean and vibrant communities we are creating.” 350 Bay Area will continue to press for a just transition away from fossil fuels.