Environmental groups on Tuesday stepped up pressure on California Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a moratorium on new oil, natural gas well drilling as the state is facing a ”climate emergency.”
Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments and Environment California, among others, asked Newsom to move more quickly to phase out fossil fuels, claiming “audacious action” is required. In their letter to Newsom, the groups also asked the governor to ban all new oil and gas drilling permits for conventional and unconventional production, shutter the Aliso Canyon underground gas storage facility, and establish 2,500-foot setbacks between populated areas and well sites.
Industry groups criticized the groups’ requests.
Western States Petroleum Association President Cathy Reheis-Boyd said the “endless attacks” on oil and gas producers and “the safe and affordable energy they provide, are a shame.” The energy industry employees in the state are among the “most important assets California has as we work towards a sustainable energy future. Bold action is being taken everyday by our industry to bring innovation and new ideas to energy production in our state.”
California Independent Petroleum Association CEO Rock Zierman called the activists extremists who care more about “grandstanding than the environment.” He said they should support more in-state production.
“Our members are investing in new technologies to lower the carbon footprint of production to potentially make it carbon negative and offset greenhouse gas emissions from other sources,” Zierman said. Environmental groups “want us to increase our reliance on imported oil from the Middle East, which isn’t produced under our tough environmental rules and must be tankered to our ports.”
Separately, a group of California Assembly Democrats is proposing to accelerate an already aggressive push to a no-carbon energy environment in the state by 2050. Assembly Bill 1838 would create a state Green New Deal, not to change the state’s tactics but to accelerate the timetable to implement them.