California Assembly Votes to Regulate Fracking

September 11, 2013

SACRAMENTO – The California State Assembly voted 48-17 Wednesday to approve Senate Bill 4 (Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills), a stunning victory for the public and the environment that moves California a step closer to regulating hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), acidizing and other unregulated oilfield practices.

Unlike at least 14 petroleum producing states including Texas and Wyoming, California does not currently regulate fracking, which is the injection of water, sand and chemicals underground to crack rock formations and free up oil and gas. The state also lacks regulations for acidizing, which is the use of hydrofluoric acid and other corrosive acids to dissolve shale rock. Oil companies have predicted acidizing could be the primary tool for accessing the Monterey Shale, the nation’s largest shale oil deposit with an estimated 15.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

SB 4 would require permits for fracking, acidizing and other oil well stimulation practices. It would require notification of neighbors, public disclosure of all chemicals used, groundwater and air quality monitoring and an independent scientific study. The study would evaluate potential risks such as groundwater and surface water contamination, greenhouse gas emissions, local air pollution, seismic impacts, and effects on wildlife, native plants and habitat.

“I commend my colleagues for this crucial and difficult vote,” Pavley said. “There are still many unanswered questions about the use and impacts of fracking and acidizing, and it is in the interest of all Californians to monitor and regulate these practices. Ultimately the oil industry, not the public, should be held accountable for the costs of these activities.”

The bill will be sent to the Senate for concurrence.