What Can We Expect in a Frackless California? Economic Devastation, More Energy Imports.

Care to guess the last time the governor’s office issued a new fracking permit? It was February.

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Now that’s a meaningless fact without context, so let’s put it perspective: Even though “Newsom endorsed an end to fracking” while running for governor in 2018, says California political legend Dan Walters, his administration early on increased the flow of fracking permits.

But then Newsom later “came under heavy pressure to match his words with action,” Walters continues.

By November 2019, Newsom had set ​a moratorium on fracking projects. Before permits would be issued, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers would review plans to ensure they met regulatory requirements. Yet it wasn’t terribly long before “the state issued 48 new permits for hydraulic fracturing,” according to the Associated Press.

Then the recall collar got tight in April. The governor’s response was to ban new fracking anywhere in the state by 2024. Even though he previously said he didn’t think he had the authority to prohibit the process and asked the Legislature to do it for him. And even though a legislative attempt never made it out of committee.

So can we expect in a frackless California?

Energy analyst and author Michael Shellenberger says Newsom’s fracking prohibition is simply “​​bonkers.” Assemblyman Rudy Salas, a Bakersfield Democrat, called it “an abuse of power” that will “put the lives, economy and well-being of thousands of California families in jeopardy.” Western States Petroleum Association President and CEO Catherine Reheis-Boyd says it’s an “arbitrary” action that will impose “big impacts on Californians.”

Both the Western States Petroleum Association and the board of supervisors in oil-rich Kern County, which produces roughly two-thirds of the crude that California doesn’t import – making the county the seventh highest oil-producing region in the U.S. – have sued the governor over his order. It’s an existential matter for each party.

In “The Killing of Kern County,” Joel Kotkin, presidential fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and executive director of the Urban Reform Institute, usefully explains for the many in Sacramento who are missing the point that oil (and agriculture) are the foundations holding up the county’s economy. Despite what’s at stake, Kotkin believes Newsom is more “interested in flattening the area’s aspirations” than unlocking its potential, which the governor once pledged to do.

Regulators, for instance, turned down 21 fracking applications in Kern County in a single month over the summer. With one of every seven workers in the county either employed by or reliant on the oil industry, the denial of so many jobs is not an insignificant blow to the economy.

The energy producers of the WSPA are also at risk. Court rulings in Newsom’s favor make the next step – the complete shutdown of oil production across the state – much easier to take.

Maybe the oddest part of any California energy story is the fact that officials and activists seem to have no reservations about importing what they consider “dirty” energy from other states. That reliance is only going to grow as long as Sacramento is at war with fossil fuels.

Kerry Jackson is a fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.

This article was originally published by the Pacific Research Institute


  1. While just 2 of the products manufactured from crude oil are gasoline and diesel fuels for the short-range and light-weight equipment like cars and trucks, it’s inconceivable that we would divest away from the only fossil fuel, crude oil, that gets manufactured into the oil derivatives for more than 6,000 products, and transportation fuels needed by the world’s heavy-weight and long-range aviation, merchant ships, cruise ships, and militaries.

  2. In reality, environmental groups could care less about fossil fuels. It’s just a smoke screen to hide their goals of economic and social control. Even AOC’s former chief of staff admitted as much.

  3. When the truth is no longer accepted as something important, you wind up being a California. How everyone’s life is treating them is how they form whatever opinion they happen to have at any given time. People with nothing look at someone with something and complain they should have it also. We live in a world of instant gratification. Listed above are some of the reasons socialism is not recommended. Why is it that you can’t tell anyone anything yet these same people will take everything they hear on the evening news as gospel?

  4. How about this. Calif. does not have any pipelines for oil or gas from other states. The Democrats strangled the state for politics.

    Without being able to truck in or tanker in from other states it places Kalif. in the tense situation of always depending on foreign sources. Almost ALL of these sources are antagonistic or directly hostel to the good old USA.

    The Radicalized Democrat Socialist Party doesn’t have a clue. If you think that is a harsh statement look at their elected President and Vice President. Both have bungled practically all energy, immigration, military issues.

    Did you vote for them? Do you still support them? Do you love the inflation, exploding welfare rolls? Do you love the border flood?

    If you answered any of the above you need to check for dementia.

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