Published on June 4th, 2013 | by Guest Contributor0
California’s “Anti-Fracking Legislation” To Wait Another Year
This post first appeared on San Diego Loves Green
by Roy Hales
The California Assembly will not pass “Anti-Fracking” legislation this year. One of the most promising bills meant to curtail it, AB-1323, went down to defeat (24-37, with 18 votes not cast) and two others (AB-1301 and AB-649) have been held back in Appropriations until next year.
In some way, these bills are philosophically compatible with Royal Dutch Shell CEO Peter Voser’s call for firmer regulation of the industry. Voser acknowledged that the problems associated with fracking (ground water contamination, minor seismic activity etc) are real, but claims they will disappear if fracking is done correctly. The authors of bills 1301 and 649 call for further studies of the environmental impact and potential threats associated with fracking, to be followed by legislation.
The recent 5.7 quake which destroyed 14 homes in Oklahoma, associated with conventional oil drilling rather than fracking, is yet another reminder of the need to regulate this industry. So far, only minor seismic activity has been blamed on fracking – but it is occurring in areas that do not normally have quakes. California’s Monterey Shale Formation, where these fracking operations would go in, lies right alongside the San Andreas fault. Is it possible that this could be the scene of the first major quake triggered by the procedures associated with a fracking operation? What about some of the other concerns, like groundwater contamination? Is there a need for further investigation?
Opponents of the bills protest that the delay is costing Californians jobs. A recent report by Fox news that claims California is “on the verge of a new gold rush … But standing in the way is a flurry of anti-fracking bills. At last count, 10 were on the table, all introduced by Democrats seeking tighter controls over the controversial technology.”
Assemblymember Richard Bloom, the author of AB 1301, replies that “Fracking uses and produces highly toxic chemicals that can pose serious threats to public health and the environment. The threat is significant enough that 14 states have now enacted legislation restricting or banning the practice until safeguards are in place. Currently, California does not regulate or monitor fracking despite holding the largest oil reserve in the continental United States, the Monterey Shale.”
“In California, we pride ourselves on being a national leader on environmental protection, yet we have allowed this activity to occur largely unregulated. California regulates massage therapists more heavily than hydraulic fracturing.
“Because fracking is unregulated, the California Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), the agency responsible for providing oil and gas well permits, is unable to report on where fracking has occurred.”
Assemblyman Bloom’s bill wants to put a moratorium on Fracking until the potential threats are examined and legislation put in place to protect the people and natural resources of California.
So would Adrin Nazarian’s Bill AB 649, which proposes that “the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency and the Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency to convene an advisory committee to develop a report on the health and environmental impacts of fracking on the following:
- Handling and disposition of produced water or wastewater.
- Contamination of groundwater or surface water.
- The supply and sources of water used in fracking and its impact on the state, regional, and local water supply.
- The process for managing accidental spills of chemicals used for fracking.
- Impacts on endangered species and their habitat.”