SACRAMENTO, Calif. – New legislation would ban all fracking in California by 2027, taking aim at the powerful oil and gas industry in the state already planning to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035.
Progressive California has long been a leader in combating climate change, requiring solar panels on new homes and passing a law to make the nation's most populated state rely entirely on renewable energy by 2045.
But environmental groups say California officials — particularly governors — have long had a blind spot for the oil and gas industry, which has wielded its immense political power many times to kill or weaken legislation aimed at curtailing production.
That could be changing. Last year, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom announced steps to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars and called on lawmakers to go further by banning new permits for fracking, a technique to extract oil and gas embedded in rock deep beneath the surface that climate groups say harms the environment and threatens public health.
Two state senators answered that call Wednesday, announcing a measure that would halt new fracking permits or renewals by Jan. 1 and ban the practice altogether by 2027. Democratic state Sens. Scott Wiener of San Francisco and Monique Limon of Santa Barbara also say they will change the bill next month to halt new oil and gas permits within 2,500 feet (762 meters) of homes or schools by Jan. 1.
“This is real. It is harming so many people, and the time to deal with it in the future is over. We need to deal with it now,” Wiener said.
The oil and gas industry quickly pushed back. Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president and CEO of the Western States Petroleum Association, said the legislation was “so broad and ambiguous” it would “lead to a total (oil) production ban in California.”
Rock Zierman, CEO of the California Independent Petroleum Association, called the measure “legally questionable."