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Santa Cruz County board approves moratorium on all oil and gas development

Fracking in California
Fracking in California
Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

Santa Cruz County is getting on the regional and local anti-oil prospecting bandwagon. A recent permanent moratorium on new prospecting is a start. Actually, there is no oil and gas development going on or being planned in Santa Cruz County, but the board took action to create a permanent moratorium on any new fracking or oil and gas extraction. According to a May 23 article in the California Environmental Law Blog, the moratorium replaces a temporary ban that would have expired in August.

The list of California counties and cities that have made moves to ban fracking and oil and gas development is growing. In May, Beverly Hills was the first city to ban fracking. Butte County supervisors voted to consider the issue and to draft a comprehensive plan on April 8.

Los Angeles and Beverly Hills are exploring bans on well stimulation processes. The city of Carson, however, failed to pass a plan. The Carson plan was rejected for being over broad.

At the state level, SB 4 failed to pass the legislature last year. This might be the reason why cities and counties are stepping in to take action. They might be able to stop any new or expanded oil and gas extraction within their boundaries.

Governor Jerry Brown cannot be looked to for support in banning or stopping new extraction schemes. He reminds everyone that California consumed over 620.2 million barrels of oil in 2012 and there is no decline in sight. As the state is second only to Texas in oil and gas consumption, he feels it is better to use the state’s own resources rather than importing oil.

At the national level, a May 20 Huffington Post article exposed details of a secret treaty between the Obama administration and the European Union. The treaty is called the Trans Pacific Trade Agreement. This treaty would expand “U.S. fracking, offshore oil drilling and natural gas exploration." This would definitely work against the best interests of the state of California by removing the state from any level of decision making.

The problem is that a patchwork of city and county resolutions might be the only way to stop out-of-control oil and gas extraction, but local bans are no replacement for a comprehensive state level plan. A state level plan is the only way to stop the national government from selling out to foreign interests at the expense of California.

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