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Newsom Administration Approves 12 New Fracking Permits, Deepening Environmental Racism

by Ryan Schleeter

June 9, 2020

"Last week, Governor Newsom spoke forcefully about the need to fight systemic racism in California. It is time for him to turn those words into action."

Sacramento, California — Last week, while hundreds of thousands of Californians took to the streets to demand racial justice, the Newsom administration approved an additional 12 hydraulic fracturing (fracking) permits to Aera Energy, a Kern County-based oil operator. These 12 permits come on the heels of an additional 24 Aera permits issued in early April, which marked a break in the temporary fracking moratorium that Governor Gavin Newsom announced last November.

In response, Greenpeace USA Senior Climate Campaigner Caroline Henderson said:

“While Californians everywhere are demanding racial justice, it is terribly cynical for Governor Newsom’s administration to approve more fracking permits that will further exacerbate air pollution and poison Black and Brown communities. Make no mistake: an agenda that harms the environment for polluters’ profit is a racist agenda.

“Last week, Governor Newsom spoke forcefully about the need to fight systemic racism in California. It is time for him to turn those words into action. Governor Newsom must end the practice of treating California’s Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities as ‘sacrifice zones,’ starting by rejecting permits for deadly, destructive drilling and instead chart our state’s course toward a healthy, livable future where we can all thrive.”

Reports show that new oil well permits in California are on the rise in 2020. Of the 1.8 million Californians living within a mile of fossil fuel extraction sites — those who already suffer from some of the highest concentrations of environmental pollution in the state — nearly 92 percent are communities of color. And a recent Harvard University study found evidence that communities with a history of elevated air pollution were more likely to face fatal outcomes to COVID-19.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, oil and gas industry trade groups have sent various letters to the Newsom administration requesting regulatory rollbacks and looser enforcement of environmental health protections. To date, the administration has indicated they intend to allow oil and gas companies to delay regulatory requirements related to the clean up of thousands of idle oil wells threatening public health.

ENDS

Contact: Ryan Schleeter, Senior Communications Specialist, Greenpeace USA: +1 (415) 342-2386, [email protected]

Ryan Schleeter

By Ryan Schleeter

Ryan Schleeter is a senior communications specialist with Greenpeace USA covering climate and energy. His writing has appeared in National Geographic, Grist, GreenBiz, EcoWatch, and more. Find him on Twitter @ryschlee.

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