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New California fracking will be subjected to scientific research, says Gavin Newsom

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In a victory for critics of the oil drilling industry in California, Gov stopped. Gavin Newsom Tuesday with the approval of new hydraulic fractures in the state until the permits for those projects can be assessed by an independent panel of scientists.

Newsom has also imposed a moratorium on new permits for steam-injected oil drilling in California, another extraction method against which environmentalists oppose a massive oil spill in Kern County in the summer.

"These are necessary steps to strengthen oversight of oil and gas extraction as we gradually reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and focus on clean energy sources," Newsom said in a statement Tuesday morning. “This transition cannot take place overnight; it must be intentionally made to protect people, our environment and our economy. "

In addition to stopping oil extraction methods, the Newsom administration plans to study the possible application of safety buffer zones around oil wells in or near residential areas, schools, hospitals and other facilities that may be exposed to hazardous fumes.

The actions come just weeks after Newsom has signed a new law regulating the primary mission of a state agency that regulates the oil industry, now called the Geologic Energy Management Division, including the protection of public health and safety and the quality of the environment.

Since its inception, Newsom has been under pressure from politically influential environmental groups to ban the drilling of new oil and gas and to completely abolish the extraction of fossil fuels in California, one of the country's most important petroleum producing states.

The Democratic governor, however, pushed that pressure back and promised to adopt a more meticulous approach that addressed the impact on oil workers and California cities and counties that are economically dependent on the oil industry.

During his campaign for governor in 2018, News vowed to "tighten up" state oversight of hydraulic fractures or fracking and oil extraction in California.

In July, Newsom fired the largest regulator of the oil industry in California after news reports showed that his administration issued permits for hydraulic fracture permits at twice the speed of its predecessor, former government, Jerry Brown. Newsom said at the time that he did not have the legal authority to impose a fraction of the state against fracking.

Newsom stopped all pending fracking permits that are currently being reviewed by state regulators until they can be reviewed by independent experts from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

He also ordered that the state's process of issuing fracking licenses be checked by the Ministry of Finance to determine whether the process is in compliance with state law and to recommend ways to strengthen the licensing process.

The steam-based oil extraction method that Newsom stopped on Tuesday is different from fracking.

Cyclic steam injection pumps superheated steam into wells to loosen and liquefy viscous crude oil. With hydraulic fracking, a mixture of water, sand and chemicals is buried deep under high pressure to extract oil and natural gas.

It was suspected that steam injection was a factor in one of the largest oil spills in California in decades.

More than 900,000 liters of oil and brine flowed from a Chevron Corp facility this summer. in McKittrick, a small town in the oil-rich district of Kern. California regulators have imposed a $ 2.7 million fine on Chevron for violations in the oil field.

The process is also considered dangerous for oil workers. In 2011, Chevron engineer David Taylor died while inspecting a steam-injected well at Taft. The ground collapsed below him and he fell into a cavity that contained 190 degrees of water and hydrogen sulfide.

Like Newsom, Brown was pressured by environmentalists to curtail the California oil extraction and was criticized for rejecting them, despite the fact that he and the legislature adopted an ambitious goal of converting California in 2018 in a 100%, low-carbon electrical supply by 2045.

A poll by the non-partisan Public Policy Institute of California in 2016 showed that the most likely voters in the state are resisting fracking and drilling more oil for the coast. An overwhelming majority also preferred stricter emission limit values ​​for power plants in an effort to tackle climate change.

Yet there are 26 million combustion engine vehicles in California and the oil industry is helping to support nearly 368,000 jobs in the state, according to the Western States Petroleum Assn.

California is home to 72,000 oil-producing wells that last year produced 165.3 million barrels of oil from onshore and offshore facilities, according to the California Department of Conservation. California also uses more gas than any other state – 366 million barrels in 2017, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

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