California state lawmaker wants fracking moratorium
The measure, introduced by Assemblywoman Betsy Butler (D-Marina del Rey), would bar oil regulators from approving new drilling permits for wells where firms employ “fracking” to tap oil deposits.
The bill comes as the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources travels the state soliciting public comment on hydraulic fracturing, the first step in what is expected to be a lengthy rule-making process.
Environmentalists and community activists have raised concerns about the potential environmental and public health hazards of a procedure that involves injecting chemical-laced water and sand deep into the ground to tap oil. The oil industry counters that firms have used fracking for decades without incident throughout California.
Much of the anxiety stems from the fact that, unlike other oil-producing states, California does not require oil companies to disclose where they use the procedure or what chemicals they inject into the ground.
Another fracking measure, AB 591 by Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont), would change that. The bill, which stalled last year after objections by the energy industry, would require oil companies to report to regulators what chemicals they use and how much water they pump in hydraulic fracturing operations. The information would then be posted on a state website.
The state Senate rejected a bill last month that would have required energy firms to notify property owners before fracking on or near their land.
-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento
Photo: A fracking operation takes place on leased farmland near Dimock, Pa., where dairy farms used to dominate. Credit: Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times