California Senate rejects 'fracking' legislation
The California Senate on Wednesday rejected a bill that would have required energy firms to notify property owners before using hydraulic fracturing to tap oil deposits on or near their land.
The legislation, SB 1054, was pushed by state Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) as the first step toward collecting information and increasing awareness about a controversial extraction technique that state regulators are only now beginning to tackle.
Currently, California does not require oil companies to disclose where they use the procedure or what chemicals they inject into the ground. Other states have imposed moratoriums and drawn up rules after toxic chemicals were discovered in drinking water near "fracking" operations.
The Brown administration has undertaken a statewide listening tour to gather public comment on fracking and has pledged to begin drafting regulations later this year.
Under Pavley's bill, oil companies would be required to give 30 days notice to land owners whose property line or residence is within 300 feet of a fracking operation. The firms would also have to notify local governments and water boards. The state's oil and gas agency would then post the information on its website.
"This is simply a 'tell-your-neighbors' type of policy," Pavley said on the Senate floor. "This is not a bill to ban, prohibit or regulate hydraulic fracturing. It’s to provide transparency to the public."
She added: "The public is asking themselves, maybe rightly so, what are we trying to hide?"
Republicans characterized the bill as a job-killing regulation for an industry that employs many Californians. "This bill is nothing more than to slow down oil and gas production in California," said state Sen. Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield).
The measure failed, 17 to 18, with several Democrats joining their Republican colleagues in opposition. It was granted "reconsideration," meaning it could receive another hearing before Friday's bill deadline.
-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento
Photo: A gas pipeline juts from the landscape at a farm outside Dimock, Pa. Credit: Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA