California has begun the public comment period for a regulatory initiative to end the issuance of new hydraulic fracturing (fracking) permits by January 2024.

Gov. Gavin Newsom last month instructed the Department of Conservation’s Geologic Energy Management (CalGEM) Division to begin drawing up the measure. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) also was ordered to analyze pathways to phase out oil extraction statewide by 2045 at the latest.

CalGEM said Friday (May 21) it is seeking public comments on its proposal “to phase out the use of hydraulic fracturing, acid fracturing, acid-matrix stimulation and other well-stimulation treatments that enhance oil and gas production by creating channels in rock formations for hydrocarbons to flow.”

The goals are “to protect life, health, property and natural resources; public health and safety; and environmental quality, including reducing and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions associated with the development of hydrocarbon resources,” CalGEM added. 

Written comments must be submitted by July 4 to CalGEMRegulations@conservation.ca.gov.

Newsom’s office said last month that CalGEM’s process for reviewing fracking permits is the most stringent in the country, and that permit approvals are at the lowest level since the state legislature enacted a bill in 2014 to strengthen regulation of the drilling technique.

Santa Clarita-based California Resources Corp. (CRC) CEO Mark McFarland said this month he did not expect the planned fracking ban to materially impact the firm’s operations or plans. He cited that less than 1% of CRC’s proved reserves require well stimulation.

Meanwhile, as Newsom attempts to wean California off fossil fuels, he and the Biden administration are aiming to ramp up the state’s renewable energy output by opening the West Coast to offshore wind development for the first time in history.