A bill that would have banned fracking in California failed to make it out of committee Tuesday without enough Democratic support, dashing the hopes of progressives and environmental groups that the state would outlaw the practice.

Key Facts

SB467 would have banned new hydraulic fracturing permits starting in 2022, prohibited fracking altogether by 2027 and enacted a 2,500-foot buffer zone around existing wells, preventing them from operating near schools, homes and healthcare facilities.

The bill would have banned other oil extraction methods such as acid well stimulation treatments, cyclic steaming, steam flooding and water flooding.

The bill fell one vote short of making it out of the Senate Natural Resources Committee after four Democratic state senators abstained, effectively killing the bill this session. 

The measure was heavily opposed by trade unions and the oil and gas industry, which argued the bill would essentially halt all oil production in the state, forcing California to rely on oil from other states or countries that don’t have as rigorous environmental safeguards for oil extraction.

Chief Critics

California State Sens. Scott Wiener and Monique Limon, who introduced the bill, said in a statement they were “extremely disappointed” with the outcome of the committee vote because California’s continued “destructive oil drilling isn’t consistent with being a climate leader.”

Key Background

California has long positioned itself as a progressive climate change leader. The state sought to enforce stricter auto emission standards in the face of rollbacks from the Trump administration. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in September the state would ban the sale of new gasoline cars by 2035. But environmental groups have criticized Democrats for not going far enough on the issue of fracking. Newsom said he would sign a fracking ban if it came to his desk, though the state has continued to issue permits throughout his time in office. California’s oil output peaked in early 1986 at 1.1 million barrels a day, third most in the U.S. behind Texas and Alaska, but has fallen steadily since, dipping below 400,000 barrels in 2020, according to the Energy Information Administration, seventh among U.S. states.