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article imageCalifornia governor blocks fed plan to allow oil and gas drilling

By Karen Graham     Oct 13, 2019 in Politics
Sacramento - California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday signed a law intended to counter the Trump administration's plans to increase oil and gas production on protected public land.
On Friday, October 4, 2019, the Trump administration's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) made the formal decision to open 725,500 acres of public lands and mineral estate across California’s Central Coast and the Bay Area to new oil and gas drilling and fracking.
However, on Saturday, October 12, Newsom signed legislation that bars any California leasing authority from allowing pipelines or other oil and gas infrastructure to be built on state property. It makes it difficult for drilling to occur because federally protected areas are adjacent to state-owned land.
Newsom also signed an accompanying measure that renames the California agency that regulates the oil and gas industry. Language in the measure states the mission of the newly christened Geologic Energy Management Division includes protecting public health and environmental quality.
Process of mixing water with fracking fluids to be injected into the ground. A process known as Frac...
Process of mixing water with fracking fluids to be injected into the ground. A process known as Fracking.
Joshua Doubek (CC BY-SA 3.0)
In July, Newsom ordered the firing of Ken Harris, the head of the now-defunct Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources. He was dismissed over an increase in state permits for hydraulic fracturing and allegations of conflicts of interest among senior government officials, according to the Associated Press.
Even though Republicans argued that the firing of Harris was harsh, the state’s natural resources secretary will continue an investigation into reports that employees at the agency own stock in companies they regulate.
The investigation and firing came after advocacy groups Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance released data over the summer that regulators were issuing permits for hydraulic fracturing at twice the rate this year, compared to 2018.
California has been trying to limit the controversial practice known as fracking - the process of injecting liquid at high pressure into subterranean rocks and boreholes so as to force open existing fissures and extract oil or gas. Governor Newsom said the number of hydraulic fracturing permits had increased without his knowledge.
Ann Alexander, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, had high praise for the environmental law and measures the governor signed. "These bills are important steps toward prioritizing California’s communities over the oil industry,” Alexander said.
Other legislation signed into law
The governor also signed legislation that will make California the first state to ban the sale and manufacture of new fur products. The legislation was vigorously opposed by the billion-dollar U.S. fur industry, and the Fur Information Council of America has already threatened to sue.
Animal pelts on display  Last Chance Community Pow wow  Helena  Montana  September 2016.
Animal pelts on display, Last Chance Community Pow wow, Helena, Montana, September 2016.
Montanabw (CC BY-SA 4.0)
The ban does not apply to used products or those used for religious or tribal purposes. And it also excludes the sale of leather, dog and cat fur, cowhides, deer, sheep and goatskin and anything preserved through taxidermy.
California must phase out private, for-profit prisons and immigrant detention centers by 2028 under a new law Newsom signed Friday.
The governor also signed into law a ban on smoking in state parks and on beaches starting next year. The law also bans disposing of cigar and cigarette waste at parks and beaches. Violations of the law will be punishable by a fine of up to $25.
More about California, Governor Gavin Newsome, oil and gas drilling, Trump administration, Legislation
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