Hannah Shih

Shug Speaks

California Hits Pause on Steam Oil Recovery and Fracking

November 26, 2019

Photo Courtesy: Irfan Khan, AP/Time Magazine

California, under Governor Gavin Newsom’s leadership, recently cracked down on oil producers, halting approval of both hundreds of fracking permits and temporarily banning high-pressure steam drilling methods, which regulators have linked to one of the largest spills in state history.

According to Adam Beam from Time Magazine, “it’s the type of process Chevron uses at an oil field in the Central Valley that leaked more than 1.3 million gallons (4.9 million liters) of oil and water this summer.”

With 263 pending fracking permits sitting unapproved since July when Newsom fired California’s top oil and gas regulator after learning that fracking permits had increased by 35% since he took office, I am in full support of Newsom’s leadership on environmental issues. By pausing high pressure steam oil recovery, root cause analysis can be conducted and corrective actions can be put in place. If natural resources are to be used, they must be extracted responsibly. 

Among the more than 161 million barrels of oil produced in California in 2018, the steam method only accounted for 8 million barrels, constituting a small, but dangerous, portion of the state’s oil production, given its link to the Chevron spill.

Over the last six years, California has increased renewable energy from 22% to 36% and created hundreds of thousands of clean energy jobs while simultaneously improving its economic position globally as a “nation” from 8th to 6th in the WORLD, blowing away any other state.

As one of the top five oil producing states, California is also exporting hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles made in domestically by Telsa and a dozen other manufacturers. EVs are a thrilling and increasingly cost-effective way to deliver mobility, and powering them with renewable energy will hopefully accelerate the transition from the oil section, eliminating future issues with oil extraction of every variety.  

Read more on California’s fracking and steam drilling policies in Time Magazine.

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