Gov. Newsom’s Moratorium on New Fracking Projects

Gov. Newsom’s Moratorium on New Fracking Projects

Image Source: Les Stone / Greenpeace


A recent initiative to protect public and environmental health has swept through California. In November 2019, Governor Newsom issued a moratorium on the permitting of new oil extraction wells that use a high-pressure steam injection process in California. This halt does not apply to all projects, it only applies to the high-pressure steam processes that fracture rock or geological formations to extract oil. During this moratorium, regulators will consult with experts to determine whether this intensive fracking process can be done safely and in compliance with recent regulations. Ultimately, regulators could end up requiring new safety practices, updated regulations, or prohibiting the practice entirely.

This moratorium is likely due in part to a recent oil leak in Kern County that led to more than 900,000 gallons of oil and brine seeping into the local ecosystems. While the reported damage appeared minimal, there is no way to predict the potential long-term impacts of this spill. Instances such as this only reinforce the necessity of our transition to renewable energy, and fortunately, it seems like California agrees.

Gov. Newsom really emphasized the importance of public health and safety protections near oil and gas extraction sites, and he ruled to strengthen and update our existing regulations. This could effectively mean prohibiting oil and gas activities within close proximity to schools, homes, parks, and hospitals in order to protect public health. This pre-regulatory process will begin in 2020 with the expectation that updated rules can be anticipated later in the year. 

The new oil and gas initiatives will also require independent review of all proposed hydraulic fracturing permits in California. According to the Department of Conservation, the goal is to ensure that our current permitting processes comply with state regulations and policies while maintaining our standards for public health and environmental protection. 

This initiative has put California on the path to achieve our goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2045 – we are continuing the transition to a renewable energy future, and Brighten Solar is proud to be part of the green revolution!