Le Lézard
Classified in: Oil industry
Subject: AVO

New Oil Drilling Permit Approvals Fall To Zero For First Time Since Newsom Came To Office, Making History, Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance Say

LOS ANGELES, April 19, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- In a historic first, California oil regulators approved zero new drilling permits in the first quarter of 2024, effectively halting new drilling permit approvals at 5,947 since Governor Newsom came to office in 2019, according to Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance. Newsom's regulators have issued a total of 15,940 well permits of all types since he took office in 2019.

At the same time, permits to redrill oil and gas wells plummeted 89% to 99 permits in the first quarter over the same quarter last year, according to FracTracker Alliance analysis of permit data from the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) that approves drilling permits. Permits to plug wells rose 76% to 1, 299. See Table 1.

Table 1.

Permits by Well Types

Permit Count Totals

Oil and Gas Production

EOR & Support

O&G and EOR Totals



New Drilling

Rework/ Redrill

New Drilling

Rework/ Redrill

New Drilling

Rework/ Redrill



2023 ?









2024 ?










Down 100%

Down 86%

Down 100%

Down 92%

Down 100%

Down 89%

Down 89%

Up 76%

*Permits for Sidetracks and to Deepen wells are included in the Rework/Redrill counts

FracTracker analysis of CalGEM permit data

"CalGEM is diligently requiring environmental reviews under CEQA and assessing the potential impacts of the permits that they are issuing," said Kyle Ferrar, Western Program Director for FracTracker Alliance. "The reduction in approved permits is a strong indication that CalGEM is taking the risks associated with drilling and drilling activity more seriously when considering their impacts on communities."

Table 2.


          New Drill Permits Issued          













California is home to 101,000 actively producing, idle, and newly permitted wells that have not yet become operational, according to FracTracker Alliance. Out of that number, 26,000 are located within the 3,200-foot health protective zone where millions of people live.

Wells within the setback zone produce an average of only two barrels of oil per day, adding almost no economic benefit. Drillers prefer to keep them running rather than pay the cost of plugging them.

"Scientific evidence shows a direct link between drilling, pre-term births, respiratory illnesses and cancer among people who live in close proximity to oil drilling," said Liza Tucker, consumer advocate with Consumer Watchdog. "It's also not profitable for oil companies to drill for oil inside the health protective zone. So, it makes no sense to continue to poison people for the sake of pennies. These findings make the case for passage of new laws to protect vulnerable California communities by holding drillers accountable."

Assembly Bill 3155 (Friedman) creates a new financial liability presumption for a respiratory ailment, a pre-natal defect, and a person's cancer diagnosis if they lived for two years within 3,200 feet of an oil and gas production facility that failed to use the most effective pollution control technology. The bill passed out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee earlier this week and heads to a hearing before the Assembly Natural Resources Committee on Monday, April 22nd.

AB 2716 (Bryan), the Low-Producing Well Accountability Act takes aim at wells eking out less than 15 barrels of oil per day in health protection zones by levying a $10,000 per day fine on each of these wells known as "stripper wells." Stripper wells are at the end of their economically productive lives. Drillers keep them open because it costs less than spending $100,000 or more per well to plug them. Stripper wells inside health protection zones pollute, endangering the health of residents for little economic gain. 83% of the active wells in the setback zone operate as stripper wells. AB 2716 passed out of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee and awaits action in the Appropriations Committee.

To see the number of drilling permits approved in the first quarter of 2024 and locations, visit Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance's joint site: https://newsomwellwatch.com

SOURCE Consumer Watchdog

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