California issued 24 hydraulic fracturing permits on Friday, authorizing the first new oil wells in the state since July of last year and angering environmental groups who have been pressuring the state to ban the procedure known as fracking.
California halted all fracking permits last year after Gov. Gavin Newsom fired the state’s top oil and gas regulator after a report showed new wells increased 35% since Newsom took office.
In November, the California Geologic Energy Management Division asked for an independent, scientific review of its permitting process to make sure the state was meeting standards for public health, safety and environmental protection.
The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory completed that review, and Friday the state issued 24 permits to Aera Energy for wells in the North Belridge and South Belridge oil fields in Kern County near Bakersfield.
California still has 282 fracking permits awaiting review. State Oil and Gas Supervisor Uduak-Joe Ntuk said the state now has a “more technically robust process” to review those applications, “including requiring additional technical disclosures to improve transparency.”