California's move to ban fracking by 2027 puts jobs, livelihoods at risk, opponents say

The bill would prohibit new fracking permits or renewals by Jan. 1, 2022, while also banning permits within 2,500 feet of homes or schools

Answering the call of Gov. Newsom, Democratic California lawmakers introduced a bill to ban fracking by 2027, in the fifth largest economy in the world.

The bill, from Democratic state Sens. Scott Wiener of San Francisco and Monique Limon of Santa Barbara, would prohibit new fracking permits or renewals by Jan. 1, 2022, while also banning permits within 2,500 feet of homes or schools.

Assembly Member Vince Fong, who represents Kern County which produces 70% of oil in California, told FOX Business that the bill “will devastate the local economy” and “destroy careers in California.”

“Not only would it cost us jobs, but it would also make things more expensive in California at a time when it's already expensive to live and work in our state, we need to be making things more affordable” said Fong. “We need to be creating jobs. We need to power our economy. And that can be done by supporting our local oil industry.”

A study conducted by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation found that the oil and gas industry supports 366,000 jobs in California.

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Rita Waugh, a California native, is one of those employed in the industry. Waugh is a mother of two and has worked for Aera Energy, a natural gas, oil exploration and production company, coming up on 20 years.

Waugh shared her concern about the proposed fracking ban, telling FOX Business that “my job and many other jobs in the oil industry would be in danger if this measure were to pass.”

She is worried about the impact on her community, sharing, “It's not just necessarily my job. It's the restaurants and the businesses that I then go and spend my income in support of this community. I think it would change really change the dynamics of this entire community.”

Waugh is concerned that “people who are paying taxes, supplying for their family, offering their family economic stability would find themselves unemployed on the basis of politics … so that's a real threat.”

And, she’s fearful she’ll have to uproot her family who has lived in Bakersfield for decades in order to follow the industry that Governor Newsom is pushing out of California.

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Moving the industry out still won’t stop the need for reliable energy which means the measure will “make California completely dependent on foreign sources of oil,” Fong said. “We need California energy produced by Californians for Californians. That would ensure that our state not only has reliable energy, but we can power our economy.”

California leads the world with some of the strictest environmental standards with Governor Newsom recently announcing an executive order to require by 2035 that all new cars and passenger trucks be zero-emission vehicles.

But Waugh says, “It is much more dangerous to allow tankers of oil to be brought in from Saudi Arabia and Ecuador and the other countries that supply really significant percentages of California oil.” She says she appreciates the beauty around her in California, adding that “in no way shape or form does working in the oil industry make you anti-environmentalist.”

When speaking on policies being pushed by Gov. Newsom, Fong said “it's a lot of rhetoric and makes a lot of good headlines, but it doesn’t help everyday Californians. Californians are frustrated.”

He added, “Gov. Newsom and Sacramento Democrats have continued to be out of touch with a lot of the policies that they're pushing at a time where Californians are struggling.”

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Newsom continues to face backlash as the California secretary of state is in the process of verifying the 2,117,730 signatures submitted by the "Recall Gavin 2020" movement.

A hearing will be held on April 13 in which the bill to ban fracking in the state will be discussed. Fong agreed a debate needs to be held on “what path we need to do to take to provide everyday Californians with reliable and affordable energy” and “this bill takes us in the wrong direction.”