Newsom asked for a fracking ban. He may get more than he bargained for with ambitious plan

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SACRAMENTO —  When Gov. Gavin Newsom voiced his support last year for a ban on hydraulic fracturing by oil and gas companies, an effort long fought by the industry and trade unions alike, he gave Democrats a green light to send him legislation to achieve that goal as they saw fit.

But the crackdown on oil and gas production under consideration by the California Legislature is much wider in scope than the plan requested by the governor, who may get more than he bargained for as he shoulders the pressures of carrying out the state’s COVID-19 pandemic response while battling a looming recall election.

The ambitious proposal would outlaw hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and a series of other oil extraction methods reviled by environmental activists. It would also prohibit wells from operating within 2,500 feet of homes, schools, healthcare facilities and other populated areas. Newsom’s proposal was limited to a ban only on fracking and the consideration of a buffer zone.

Proponents of the bill have said from the outset that Newsom must take an active role in pushing the legislation through and have expressed concern that the governor’s attention will be focused on his own political survival with a recall election in the fall all but certain.

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