Fracking is being phased out in California. Not for any rational reason. The process of hydraulic fracturing to extract oil and gas is in part responsible for the long-term drop in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. But because fracking has been vilified by the green lobby, it therefore must be banished from climate-obsessed California.
Last week, regulators refused to approve 21 applications to use hydraulic fracturing in Kern County, which accounts for 71% of the state’s oil production and 90% of its natural gas output. The office of Gov. Gavin Newsom, who ran on the promise to eliminate fracking in California, said the mass denial of permits “is one of many actions the administration is taking to reduce and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and respond to the climate emergency.” The governor, we’re assured, has “been clear that he does not see a role for fracking in that future.”
The self-appointed protectors of earth and sky have strong opinions about fracking. They claim it’s dirty, bad for the environment, a threat to our health. That it’s toxic, expensive, and just plain dangerous.
But here are some facts:
- Thanks to fracking, the U.S. has cut CO2 emissions, which have reached their lowest level in this country since 1992. Natural gas produced by fracking has replaced emissions-heavy coal as a fuel for power plants.
- Fracking helped the U.S. become energy independent.
- Fracking is strictly regulated in California.
- The process does not contaminate drinking water.
- Hydraulic fracturing is typically done thousands of feet below drinking water aquifers.
- Fracking has made energy more affordable.
Odd that those who claim to be concerned about pollution and carbon dioxide emissions (which are not the same) want to ban a method of resource harvesting that has helped the country decrease its greenhouse gas output. Why would they attack a process that’s cleaner than conventional drilling?
Because their objective is not to cut emissions and scrub the environment clean but to shut down fossil fuel extraction altogether and fracking directly threatens that agenda. Through fracking, Earth can indefinitely pump its bounty of crude oil and natural gas to the surface because it revives wells that had been previously thought to be at the end of their productive lives.
It’s also a bit curious, though, not at all surprising, that a governor would seem to have no reservations about how his actions would contribute to “The Killing of Kern County.”
“Kern County runs on oil,” says District 1 County Supervisor Phillip Peters. About one in seven Kern County workers are employed by the oil industry or are reliant on it. Oil-and-gas jobs contribute $9.2 billion to the local economy, which is about 14% of the Kern’s total economic output. In a county of 900,000, industry jobs are six times the national average.
Even so, “progressives seek to wipe out Kern’s blue-collar economy” while “happily” importing oil from Saudi Arabia, writes Chapman University’s Joel Kotkin.
“According to a study by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation,” Kotkin continues, the governor’s anti-oil “dictates threaten over 366,000 high-paying, largely blue-collar jobs,” in Kern, about half of them “held by people of color.”
“Another 3.9 million jobs, 16.5% of total state employment, are at risk from these policies.”
Kotkin argues convincingly over 20 paragraphs that there is a “progressive effort to destroy a place like Kern County.” Anyone with an open mind would agree with his point. Yet there’s a temptation to say, as Jake Gittes’ associate told him, “forget it Joel. It’s California.”
Kerry Jackson is a fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.