California has long touted its reputation as a green pioneer in the US.
Its lawmakers and regulators have significantly restricted oil exploration in recent years and have increased efforts to decarbonize and introduce renewables to the state.
However, recent accusations around California’s leaking methane, legislator donations from Big Oil, and the state’s ongoing backing of natural gas have made many question the merit of its status as a clean energy state. California has announced several plans to curb its oil operations in recent years. Earlier in 2022, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously for the phasing out of drilling in the city, using $165 million in federal funds to seal abandoned wells across the state. This followed a 2018 report by the Los Angeles County Department of Health that found oil and gas sites located in densely populated areas to be detrimental to public health.
Last week, the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission agreed to an ordinance banning the drilling of new oil and gas wells in various unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. But it received criticism for not including the controversial Inglewood Oil Field, an area with a large population, in its ban. However, oil industry experts highlight the ongoing need to import crude to the oil-rich region and the reliance the state has had on Russia in the past, suggesting that sourcing energy locally will contribute to greater energy security.
Amid criticism over environmental damage, with a recent report revealing Texas, Ohio, and California as the states most under threat by oil and gas pollution, California must tread carefully if it hopes to maintain its green reputation. An interactive oil and gas threat map highlights the main areas at risk, which include scattered areas across the state.
In addition, the Government of California has recently come under fire for failing to plug oil and gas wells, with 21 oil wells found to be leaking high levels of methane. This news came as a shock to the public that had been promised a 40 percent reduction in methane emissions by 2030. California’s top oil regulator, Uduak-Joe Ntuk, was accused of lying about the severity of the leaks, located near Bakersfield. Although the state was quick to respond to the issue, putting pressure on California Geologic Energy Man…