Last July California Governor Gavin Newsom instituted a moratorium on permitting new hydraulic fracturing operations in the state, simultaneously firing the head supervisor of oil and gas services after receiving criticism from environmental groups for increased use of fracking under his administration.
Nine months later, and at a critical time for the country, the California Geologic Energy Management (CalGEM) division has issued 24 hydraulic fracturing permits for new oil wells in and around the Bakersfield area. Further, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has published positive findings about the state’s fracking permit review process, meaning state energy regulators can move forward on assessing the nearly three hundred permits backlogged as a result of Governor Newsom’s moratorium.
Governor Newsom and others must acknowledge the value of its states natural resource reserves that have allowed it to become the seventh largest crude oil producing state and third in refining capacity. Fracking is a major part in continuing to electrify the state, which has been particularly vulnerable to grid disruptions since the 2001 energy crisis perpetrated by Enron and PG&E.
By reopening the tap on fracking operations in the state, California can bolster its grid resiliency, stimulate economic activity in the industry, and deliver shovel – ready jobs for the thousands displaced Californians from COVID – 19. The state ranks second in total energy consumption; playing politics through bans and moratoriums with an essential service is unacceptable. Last week’s permit issuance is a positive step in the right direction for future energy development across the state.