Facing drought and fire risks, California moves to end fracking and oil extraction

Facing drought and fire risks, California moves to end fracking and oil extraction

Wildfire California

Forest Service USDA / Peter Buschmann

California will stop issuing new fracking permits by 2024 and will halt all oil drilling by 2045, Governor Gavin Newsom announced Friday.

Newsom’s order to state regulators, if successful, would make California, currently the seventh-largest oil-producing state in the country, the largest to ban fracking. Newsom’s order comes as the American West stares down the barrel of a ‘megadrought’ expected to prompt the region’s first-ever official water shortage declaration, which would impose cuts on water allocation.

Climate change makes droughts worse by changing precipitation patterns and increasing evaporation caused by higher temperatures, all of which in turn is setting the stage for a horrific fire season on the heels of last year’s record-breaking conflagrations. Those wildfires threaten more than just what they might burn.

Recent research shows particulate pollution (PM2.5) caused by wildfires can be several times more harmful to human respiratory health than other forms of air pollution, including car exhaust, possibly because wildfires burn everything in their path, including homes and other buildings, and thus release particularly toxic chemicals.

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