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Under COVID cover, ‘green’ Gavin Newsom gives go-ahead for more Fracking in California

It’s often been said that in the United States you have one party (Big Government) with two branches (Democrats and Republicans). While Democrats talk a big game about being America’s ‘green’ guardians of the environment, in the end both parties will bow to transnational corporations if the price is right.

A perfect example is the highly dirty and loss-leading unconventional oil and gas drilling practice of hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking. It seems that California’s governor Gavin Newson has just given the ‘green’ light to more fracking wells located in some of the state’s most beautiful areas.

With the state under shutdown orders because of COVID-19, the state’s Democratic governor has seized the opportunity to push through even more permits for the highly controversial energy extraction process.

Desert Sun reports…


Gov. Gavin Newsom, left, touring the Chevron oilfield in McKittrick, CA (Photo Credit: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via AP, Pool)

California regulators on Friday issued fracking permits for the first time in nine months, saying federal scientists had given clearance for 24 permits to Aera Energy for oil well stimulation in Kern County.

Another 282 applications remain on hold pending individual review, until a comprehensive audit of the state’s drill permitting practices is completed.

“Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory experts are continuing evaluation on a permit-by-permit basis and conducting a rigorous technical review to verify geological claims made by well operators in the application process,” said Teresa Schilling, spokeswoman for the California Geologic Energy Management division, or CalGEM. “Permit-by-permit review will continue until the Department of Finance Audit is complete later this year.”

(…) In November, after reports by The Desert Sun about illegal oil spills across the state, and empty “dummy” project folders for risky cyclic steam permits issued without required upfront approvals, Newsom announced a moratorium on all new fracking and cyclic steam permits.

While environmentalists and consumer advocates were delighted with the halt, Newsom and other state officials faced immediate, fierce backlash from oil executives and employees, and from Kern County officials, where most of the state’s petroleum production is located. Kern County is in the southern part of the Central Valley.

On Friday, new Oil and Gas Supervisor Uduak-Joe Ntuk notified Aera Energy that he had signed off on two dozen permits for fracking wells in its North and South Belridge oil field operations. He did so after Aera provided additional, detailed field descriptions and other technical data and guarantees requested by the Lawrence Livermore reviewers. The federal lab also evaluated CalGEM’s engineering and geologic analyses.

(…) But opponents were not happy that the state has resumed issuing permits for what they say is a risky drilling technique, particularly in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With the entire state shut down and kids out of school, what purpose could approving these fracking permits have now, other than to do a solid for the oil industry when no one is watching? This is like a Pearl Harbor attack for the environment,” said Jamie Court, executive director of Consumer Watchdog, which unearthed the data about conflicts of interest among senior oil regulators. “As if California has not had enough bad news, fracking is now back. … What pebble-minded bureaucrat decided that as we hunker in our homes trying to avoid a plague that it was time to bring fracking back?”

Continue this story at Desert Sun

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