Three hydro-fracking derricks sitting on a plain in CA, Bakersfield.

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bill would ban new fracking projects in California

February 18, 2021


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Groups that fight climate change are applauding a bill introduced Tuesday to halt new permits for fracking starting next year, and ban it altogether as of 2027.

Senate Bill 467 would also apply to several other extraction methods that advocates say are harmful to human health and the environment.

Kathy Dervin, co-chair of the nonprofit group 350 Bay Area’s legislative committee, said in order to make a dent in global warming, we need to start phasing out oil and natural gas.

“California has committed ourselves to become carbon-neutral by 2045,” Dervin pointed out. “And the only way we can do that is by transitioning away from fossil fuels, including oil extraction in our own state.”

Next month, the bill will be amended to require a setback to keep any new oil and gas projects at least 2,500 feet from homes, schools, health-care facilities, dormitories or prisons.

Opponents of the bill say it could result in higher gas prices and cost industry jobs.

Juan Flores, community organizer in Kern County for the Center for Race, Poverty and the Environment, praised a provision in the bill to retrain oil workers for jobs in well remediation and sealing.

“By working for a just transition to a green economy, these types of jobs can grow the tax base and provide worker benefits without polluting our air and water and making people sick,” Flores contended.

Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, co-author of the bill, said two million Californians live within one mile of an active well.

“We must ensure that these lower-income communities of color are not subject to significant health and safety risks associated with being close to this oil production,” Wiener asserted. “This is a critical environmental health and racial-justice issue.”

Advocates said fracking leads to poor air quality and produces contaminated wastewater that ends up in the aquifer.

Studies have found that nearby communities suffer with increased rates of asthma, congenital heart defects, respiratory complications, chronic migraines and low birth-weight babies.Disclosure: 350 Bay Area contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Environment, and Environmental Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.