California Governor Gavin Newsom today set an aspirational 2045 deadline to stop all oil extraction in the state. He also said that he plans to ban hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” for oil by 2024.
“As we move to swiftly decarbonize our transportation sector and create a healthier future for our children, I’ve made it clear I don’t see a role for fracking in that future and, similarly, believe that California needs to move beyond oil,” he said in a statement.
Newsom directed the state’s Department of Conservation to quit issuing new permits for fracking. Halting all oil extraction, however, will be more difficult. For now, he’s asked the California Air Resources Board to “analyze pathways” that could put an end to digging up new oil by 2045.
The embattled governor, who could soon face a recall election, previously said he didn’t have the “authority” to ban fracking. State lawmakers tried to pass legislation banning fracking earlier this year but failed. Fracking is a controversial way of accessing hard-to-reach oil and gas reserves that poses threats to air and water quality. It only accounts for about two percent of oil production in the state, so Newsom will have to make good on his other commitment if he wants to have a big impact on the state’s oil production.
“It’d be the biggest oil producer ever to announce an end to oil extraction”
California is the world’s fifth-largest economy, so its environmental goals hold weight. “This is significant. If California was a country, it’d be the biggest oil producer ever to announce an end to oil extraction,” tweeted Jonathan Gaventa, a senior associate at the climate think tank E3G.
Some said Newsom still isn’t getting ambitious enough. “Phasing out drilling by 2045 is inadequate. That’s twenty-four wildfire seasons away, with exponentially worsening conditions every year,” the Los Angeles chapter of the environmental organization Sunrise Movement tweeted.
California has led the way on ambitious climate policy in the past. Last year, it became the first state to ban the future sale of new internal combustion vehicles. In 2018, former governor Jerry Brown set a target for the whole state to be carbon neutral by 2045, meaning it won’t put out more planet-heating carbon dioxide emissions than it can offset or capture.