Approval Of New Oil Wells In California Has Ground To A Halt Under Gavin Newsom

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California, a major producer of U.S. crude oil, has issued almost no new drilling permits this year, Reuters reported Thursday.

The state — the seventh-largest producer of U.S. crude — has approved just seven permits for new drilling to date this year, well short of the more than 200 it had approved by this time in 2022, Reuters reported. While new permits have generally been declining since Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom took office in 2019 and implemented various anti-oil policies, the precipitous drop in approvals can also be attributed to litigation blocking approvals in Kern County, a California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) spokesperson told Reuters. (RELATED: California Passes Bill To Control Prices)

Environmentalists filed suit to block a local Kern County ordinance that would streamline oil permitting in the state’s most oil-rich region, which has resulted in a yearslong back-and-forth in which the county has at various times been forbidden from issuing new permits, according to local outlet The Bakersfield Californian. The county was initially ordered to halt new permits in October 2021, before being granted permission to resume last November, before being blocked again in January.

LONG BEACH, CA - MAY 29: Oil wells are silhouetted at sunset near Signal Hill on May 29, 2003 in Long Beach, California. The Signal Hill Oil Field, now known as the Long Beach Oil Field, reportedly had the world's highest oil production per acre by the mid-twentieth century. Hundreds of companies and individuals became rich on minute leases, some locations so close that derrick legs overlapped. New housing and stores are now being built among operating oil wells. Farther north, a cancer scare has swept over Beverly Hills High School where environmental activist Erin Brockovich and her boss, lawyer Ed Masry, are alleging that toxic fumes from oil wells on the campus have created a "cancer cluster" that is 20 times higher than the national average. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

LONG BEACH, CA – MAY 29: Oil wells are silhouetted at sunset near Signal Hill on May 29, 2003 in Long Beach, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Permits to repair or improve existing wells have soared this year, up roughly 50% to 1,650 approvals, Reuters reported. Rock Zierman, CEO of the California Independent Petroleum Association (CIPA), told the outlet that while these upgrades would help existing wells, they could not match production at new wells.

Drillers have more than 1,400 outstanding permits for new wells, half of which are over a year old, Zierman said, according to Reuters.

“We expect this permitting trend to continue as California transitions away from fossil fuels,” CalGEM told Reuters. Newsom has set a goal of ending oil drilling in the state by 2045, and set climate policies to support this goal, according to a press release from his office..

CalGEM did not immediately respond to a Daily Caller News Foundation request for comment.

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