SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A California lawmaker has introduced a measure that would ban fracking in the nation's most populated state by 2027. The legislation was revealed Wednesday, five months after Gov. Gavin Newsom called on the Legislature to ban fracking by 2024.
Fracking is a technique used to extract huge amounts of oil and gas from shale rock deep underground.
The bill, SB 467, "End Fracking & Harmful Drilling Act" will also prohibit all new or renewed permits for oil and gas extraction within 2,500 feet of any homes, schools, healthcare facilities or long-term care institutions such as dormitories or prisons.
Kern County is home to more than two-thirds of the state's oil drilling.
According to an October 2020 analysis by UC Berkeley economists and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, out of 16.2 million jobs statewide, 7,700 are directly connected to the oil and gas sector, with 3,400 of those jobs in Kern County. The average blue-collar wage is $55,600, the study found.
Several Kern County Republican legislators have spoken out against banning fracking or other extraction techniques that boosts the state's sagging output. But there are those in Kern supporting the measure.
ABC News reported both Republic Kern County Senator Shannon Grove and Assemblyman Vince Fong spoke out against halting the state's oil production. According to the report, Grove said that if the bill becomes law, it would force the state to “rely on foreign countries with dismal human rights records that barely let women drive and have little to no regard for the environment." Fong said California produces oil “in the most environmentally responsible way.”
According to the Desert Sun, Kern County-based Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment is one group in support of SB 467. The Desert Sun reported that the environmental group said the legislation "looks at those drilling practices that are most harmful to people," and "[protects] those residents in California that are the most impacted."
Opponents say the chemicals involved threaten water supplies and public health.
The measure would halt new fracking permits or renewing current ones on Jan 1, 2022, and completely ban the practice by Jan. 1, 2027. It’s likely to be one of the most contentious fights in the state Legislature this year.