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California denies most fracking permits ahead of 2024 ban

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California regulators haven’t approved permits for the controversial oil and gas extraction process known as fracking since February, effectively phasing out the process ahead of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2024 deadline to end it.

The state’s Geologic Energy Management Division, known as CalGEM, has rejected an unprecedented 109 fracking permits in 2021, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. That’s the most denials the division has issued in a single year since California began permitting fracking in 2015. Fifty of the permits, mostly from Bakersfield-based Aera Energy, were denied based solely on climate change concerns.

In 2020, Governor Newsom called for state lawmakers to ban the practice by 2024. But a proposal before lawmakers failed, leading Newsom to direct CalGEM to proceed with the timeline on its own. 

Kern County, where most fracking in the state occurs, and the Western States Petroleum Association have sued the state over the denials. WSPA’s lawsuit, filed in October, argues state law requires CalGEM to permit fracking if it meets technical requirements and that the denials amount to a de facto ban on the process that hasn’t been approved by the Legislature.

A hearing in the Kern case is scheduled for Monday and the state must respond to WSPA’s lawsuit by Dec. 2.

Fracking is the process of injecting a high-pressure mix of mostly water with some sand and chemical additives into rock to create or expand fractures that allow for the extraction of oil and gas. Permitted fracking operations account for just 2% of oil production in California. But the practice is controversial due to concerns about the chemicals used in the fracking fluid contaminating groundwater.

AP News

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Cole Johnson

Cole grew up in a small town of just over 3,000 people called Moravia, NY—home of President Millard Fillmore and Fillmore Glen State Park.

He is eager to wake up every morning with the Desert Southwest and give viewers the greatest coverage to start their day.

Contact Cole at cole.johnson@kecytv.com.

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