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Newsom Administration Approves 12 New Fracking Permits for Chevron, Bringing the Total to 48 Since COVID-19 Pandemic Hit California

by Katie Nelson

July 6, 2020

Last week, the Newsom administration approved 12 hydraulic fracking permits to oil and gas giant, Chevron. It marks the third set of fracking permits since the COVID-19 pandemic hit California.

Sacramento, California — Last Thursday, just before the Fourth of July weekend, the Newsom administration approved 12 hydraulic fracturing (fracking) permits to oil and gas giant, Chevron. This marks the third set of fracking permits since the COVID-19 pandemic struck California, and the third time Newsom’s administration has broken the temporary fracking moratorium that the governor announced last November. 

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

“The timing of these new fracking permits just before the holiday weekend is no coincidence — it continues the Newsom administration’s pattern of quietly approving new permits when the rest of the state is looking the other way. Rather than marking the Fourth of July weekend by taking steps to end our dependence on destructive fossil fuels, Governor Newsom is doubling down on a problem that further threatens public health, exacerbates environmental racism, and delays our progress toward a more just and sustainable future. 

“Now, Governor Newsom’s administration has approved 12 more fracking permits as the state experiences its largest wave of COVID-19 cases to date, and new research shows that Black and Latinx people are twice as likely to die from the virus than white individuals. These new permits, like the others, will further exacerbate air pollution and poison Black and Brown communities, worsening the dual public health crises they face. 

“It’s long past time to end the practice of treating California’s Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities as ‘sacrifice zones.’ Rather than continuing to issue new permits for deadly drilling, Governor Newsom could be charting our state’s course toward a healthy, livable future where we can all thrive. To delay this progress is to perpetuate environmental racism.”

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 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 Chevron and other oil and gas companies to delay regulatory requirements related to the cleaning up of thousands of idle oil wells threatening public health. Chevron is the largest operator of active wells in the state, and is responsible for the second highest number of idle wells.

Contact: 

Katie Nelson, Strategic Communications Specialist, Greenpeace USA: +1 (678) 644-1681, [email protected]

Katie Nelson

By Katie Nelson

Katie Nelson is a Senior Communications Specialist at Greenpeace USA.

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