The End of New Hydraulic Fracking Permits in California Would Still be a Half Measure

As part of a series of dramatic environmental announcements in September, Gov. Gavin Newsom has promised to work with legislators to end new hydraulic fracking permits in California.

1 minute read

October 1, 2020, 11:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock

On the same day that he announced a first-in-the-nation plan to phase out gas-powered automobiles, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced intentions to phase out new hydraulic fracking permits in the state by 2024.

Gov. Newsom can't undertake these changes on his own, but said that he would "work with the legislature in its next session to push to legally phase out new fracking permits in less than four years," according to an article by Janet Wilson. 

The announcement comes with a big caveat, as noted by Wilson. While promising to end permits, the Governor "left untouched a more widely used oil extraction technique in the state that has been linked to hundreds of oil spills." That technique, known as steam fracking or high-pressure cyclic steaming, involves the injection of scalding steam, without chemicals, below ground to fracture formations, according to Wilson's explanation. 

Steam fracking has caused worker and wildlife injuries and deaths while earning Chevron and other oil companies "millions harvesting oil from spills linked to high-pressure cyclic steaming, according to a recent investigation by The Desert Sun and ProPublica."  

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