California Expands Oil Production
Despite Halt to Dakota Access, Atlantic Coast Pipelines

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Newsom administration issued 12 new fracking permits to Chevron in the Lost Hills oilfield of Kern County just as Californians headed into the Fourth of July weekend. This is the third set of permits issued after the Governor’s nine-month moratorium that ended last April. The first 24 permits were issued to the politically well-connected driller Aera Energy during the height of the COVID pandemic that month. Area received another dozen permits in June, amid the uprising for racial justice in response to the police killing of George Floyd.

These 48 fracking permits authorize 360 separate fracking events because each well can be fracked multiple times, an analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity found. Governor Newsom promised to oppose fossil fuels and ban fracking on the campaign trail, but has issued over 6,000 permits for new and existing oil and gas wells since taking office.

Health threats associated with living near oil development are well documented and reflect the disparate impact of fossil fuel production on communities of color. Two new studies released last month, the first to use state-specific data, confirmed that living near oil wells in California has significant adverse impacts on pregnant mothers and newborn babies. These studies add to an established body of evidence linking oil development to upper respiratory illness, nausea, nosebleeds, asthma, heart disease, and higher cancer risks. Decades of unequal protections and regulatory failures in California have concentrated the health risks of oil operations in low-income communities and communities of color, further contributing to stark racial inequities in today’s public health crisis. Black and Brown Californians are more likely to die from the coronavirus due to exposure to toxic particulate matter. By increasing dangerous drilling and fracking overwhelmingly located in communities of color, Governor Newsom undermines his own public statements supporting racial justice during what could be the largest public uprising in the country’s history.

As climate justice advocates celebrate victories in the battle to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline today, the Newsom administration is actively expanding fossil fuel infrastructure in the Golden State. In response, groups with Last Chance Alliance issued the following statements:

“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,” says Caroline Henderson, Senior Climate Campaigner at Greenpeace USA. “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.”

“A recent report on refinery decommissioning outlines the connection between oil production, oil refining and environmental racism, and the immediate need to start phasing California off of oil. This report clearly shows why Gov. Newsom must stop permitting any new oil and gas infrastructure, starting with rescinding these twelve permits to frack. As long as California has been a state, industrial development has disproportionately damaged Indigenous and environmental justice communities. We desperately need Gov. Newsom to be the leader that California, the climate, and frontline communities need,” says Zeiser, Climate Campaigner at

“Our members are among the hundreds of health professionals across the state who submitted comments to CalGEM detailing the mounting evidence of serious health harms from oil and gas drilling, harms that disproportionately impact communities of color” said Cynthia Mahoney MD of Climate Health Now. “To allow new permits in the midst of a pandemic that is doubly impacting already overburdened communities -especially our communities of color, means that Governor Newsom is not protecting our health. It is like providing more cigarettes to the smokers in a room where someone is suffering a heart attack.”

“Governor Newsom’s hypocrisy on fracking is blatant and distressing. Actions speak louder than words, and Newsom’s grand promises to ban fracking are a farce in light of the expansion of the practice under his watch,” said Alexandra Nagy, California Director of Food & Water Action. “Governor Newsom must cut his cozy ties with Big Oil and keep his promise to ban fracking. Furthermore, we need Newsom to be the climate leader and public health defender Californians deserve by halting all new oil and gas drilling now.”