Supreme Court rejects oil-led challenge to Calif. drilling rules

A Golden State ban on off-shore fracking will stand.

The Supreme Court has rejected oil companies’ challenge to court orders that currently ban fracking in federal waters off the California coast.

Why it matters: The ban, ordered by a federal judge in 2019, will remain in effect until U.S. officials study potential dangers to the environment and marine life and consider restrictions on drilling and possible alternatives to fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, in waters more than 3 miles from the coast. The state regulates waters nearer to the coast, and Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed an executive order banning all fracking permits in those waters as of next January.


  • The Supreme Court’s decision marks a victory for environmental groups who have long pushed for a ban on fracking in California’s waters. The practice of fracking has been linked to a range of environmental and health risks, including water pollution, air pollution, and increased risk of earthquakes.
  • The oil companies that challenged the ban argued that it was illegal and that it would cause them financial harm. However, the court’s decision means that the ban will remain in place while U.S. officials study the potential risks and consider alternatives.
  • California has been a leader in efforts to regulate and reduce the use of fossil fuels in the state. In addition to the ban on offshore fracking, the state has also set ambitious goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the use of renewable energy sources.
  • While the ban on offshore fracking is a positive step, environmental activists say that more needs to be done to address the impacts of fossil fuel production and consumption. Some have called for a complete ban on fracking in the state, while others are pushing for greater investment in renewable energy and other alternatives to fossil fuels.

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