Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Calif. governor blocks new fracking projects pending review

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday that he would not approve any new hydraulic fracturing projects in the state until an independent panel of scientists reviews the permits. "Newsom also imposed a moratorium on new permits for steam-injected oil drilling, another extraction method opposed by environmentalists that was linked to a massive petroleum spill in Kern County over the summer," Phil Willon reports for the Los Angeles Times.

Newsom said extractive industries need scrutiny as the state decreases its reliance on fossil fuels in favor of renewable sources. "This transition cannot happen overnight; it must advance in a deliberate way to protect people, our environment, and our economy," Newsom said in a statement.

In addition to the fracking halt, Newsom plans to consider adopting buffer zones around oil wells in or near residential areas, hospitals, and other places that could exposed to toxic fumes, Willon reports.

"The actions come just weeks after Newsom signed a bill into law revising the primary mission of a state agency that regulates the oil industry, now called the Geologic Energy Management Division, to include protecting public health and safety and environmental quality," Willon reports. "Citing similar safety concerns, Newsom also called Monday for the California Public Utilities Commission to expedite planning for the permanent closure of the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility in Porter Ranch. Thousands of families in the northwest San Fernando Valley were forced to evacuate starting in 2015 because of a broken well at the facility that led to the largest known release of methane gas in U.S. history. Residents reported suffering from nausea, headaches and nosebleeds, among other ailments."

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