Take Action

Tell Governor Newsom you strongly object to his approval of 24 new hydraulic fracking permits, especially during the COVID-19 crisis. Tell him to restore the moratorium on new permits in California immediately.

On April 3, California issued 24 hydraulic fracturing permits to Aera Energy for its Kern County wells [1], authorizing the first new oil wells in the state since July of last year and reversing his November 2019 moratorium on new hydraulic fracking and steam-injected drilling [2]. The governor’s moratorium on new permits followed a huge leak at a Chevron well that spilled 800,000 gallons of mixed oil and water into a dry creek bed a few miles outside of Bakersfield [3]. The moratorium did not, unfortunately, halt all fracking in California, but only the issuance of permits for new sites. Nevertheless, environmental groups welcomed the moratorium as a step in the right direction. But even that limited moratorium has now been lifted and the governor is again approving new fracking permits during the crisis when so many Californians are suffering from respiratory complications from COVID-19.

Fracking is bad news at any time [4]. It pollutes the air, produces toxins and fine particulate matter that compromises respiration, contaminates groundwater, and releases greenhouse gases, thereby accelerating climate change. It has also been suspected of inducing tremors in earthquake-prone California [5].

But fracking is especially dangerous right now during the COVID-19 crisis, as a new study from Harvard’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health proposes [6]. The findings strongly suggest that exposure to fine particulate matter, such as that released by fracking and combustion emission, profoundly increases the odds that COVID-19 will be lethal in those who contract the disease.

Even before COVID-19, studies have shown that long-term exposure to fine particulate matter is linked to heightened risks of lung cancer, heart attacks, strokes and premature death. Now scientists are proposing a link between pollution-compromised health and COVID-19 mortality. Unfortunately, there is a high correlation between low-income and exposure to polluted air and the adverse health consequences of breathing bad air. It’s likely that the same communities will be disproportionately stricken with fatal cases of COVID.

Take action now. Call or write Governor Newsom and tell him you don’t want him to compromise your health to line the pockets of polluters. He must stop permitting fracking in California during the COVID crisis. Better, he should ban all fracking until we emerge from this health crisis.

Sample script/text below.

Contact Info

  • Mail: Governor Gavin Newsom, 1303 10th Street, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814

  • Fax: (916) 558-3160

  • Phone: (916) 445-2841

  • Online form: https://govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov40mail/

You may also address your remarks to Mr. Uduak-Joe Ntuk, Supervisor of the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM).

  • Mail: Supervisor Uduak-Joe Ntuk, CalGEM, 801 K Street, MS 24-01, Sacramento, CA 95814

  • Phone: (916) 445-9686

  • Fax: (916) 319-9533

  • Email: CalGEM_Headquarters@conservation.ca.gov

Sample Script or Text

Note: For phone calls, keep your message short. You might limit your message to the first paragraph below or use your own script. It is important to make the point that you oppose any fracking during the COVID crisis because pollution from fracking puts Californians at greater risk from the virus and you are alarmed that Newsom just approved 24 new permits.

If you prefer to send a letter or email, you might use more of the sample text below. But feel free to cut and paste and produce your own version. A personalized message will have more impact. For example, how has the governor’s decision on fracking affected you personally?

Dear Governor:

I was alarmed to learn that you approved 24 new fracking permits for Aera Energy in Kern County on April 3, 2020. Your decision was especially troubling considering the COVID-19 pandemic and the unprecedented crisis we are facing right now. We need you to restore your November 2019 moratorium on new fracking permits

The adverse environmental and health impacts of fracking are clear. Fracking pollutes our air with toxic chemicals and the fine particulate matter that is shown to compromise respiration and overall health. It contaminates groundwater. It releases greenhouse gases, thereby accelerating climate change. It may even cause tremors or earthquakes.

If you want us to look to you as an earnest champion against the virus, then you ought to be banning fracking in California instead of promoting it. Fracking is bad news at any time. But it is especially dangerous to public health during the COVID crisis. The recent study from Harvard’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health suggests that exposure to fine particulate matter, such as that released by fracking, profoundly increases the odds that COVID-19 will be lethal in those who contract the disease.[See https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/covid-pm.]

Kern County residents already suffer the health effects of long-term exposure to “fine particulate matter.” Even before COVID-19, we’ve known that long-term exposure to fine particulate matter is linked to heightened risks of lung cancer, heart attacks, strokes and premature death. Now, your new fracking permits are putting an already vulnerable community at even greater risk.

Please, consider what you are doing. By permitting more fracking you are permitting already vulnerable Californians to incur a disproportionately higher risk of mortality from COVID.

I know you would prefer to be remembered as the governor who stepped up and provided unwavering, heart-warming leadership to bring us through the COVID crisis. You also have pledged to be the governor who ended our dependence on fossil fuel and aggressively combatted climate change, partly through ending Governor Brown’s love affair with fracking..

You have the opportunity right now to create the legacy you say you want. Show us that our health is your first priority. Impose an immediate moratorium on all new fracking permits in Kern County. Fracking and COVID make a deadly cocktail.

Background and References

[1] Governor approves new fracking permits: https://www.kqed.org/news/11810791/after-9-month-pause-california-issuing-fracking-permits-again

[2] November 2019 fracking moratorium: https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-11-19/california-fracking-permits-scientific-review-gavin-newsom

[3] Massive spill near Bakersfield: https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-california-oil-spill-20190712-story.html

https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2019-07-18/chevron-oil-spill-california-diane-feinstein

[4] Fracking harms: https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/california_fracking/pdfs/fracking-and-drilling-in-california.pdf

https://www.ehn.org/health-impacts-of-fracking-2634432607.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/judystone/2017/02/23/fracking-is-dangerous-to-your-health-heres-why/#60f0b7cf5945

https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/california-fracking-risks-kern-FS.pdf

https://www.calhealthreport.org/2019/12/10/fracking-ban-a-start-but-broader-actions-needed-to-protect-communities-experts-say/

[5] Fracking and earthquakes: https://earthworks.org/issues/fracking_earthquakes/

[6] Harvard Public Health Study: https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/covid-pm

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/07/climate/air-pollution-coronavirus-covid.html