California regulators to host public forum on fracking
California oil regulators will hold their final public meeting on hydraulic fracturing in Sacramento on Wednesday, capping a months-long series of workshops aimed at shaping rules for the controversial method of oil extraction.
The meeting is set for 7 to 9 p.m. at the headquarters of the California Environmental Protection Agency, 1001 I St.
Nearly a dozen environmental and consumer groups plan to rally outside the building to call for a moratorium on fracking, which involves injecting chemical-laced water and sand deep into the ground to tap oil.
Environmentalists and community activists have raised concerns about potential environmental and public health hazards, including contaminated drinking water. Representatives from the energy industry have said that hydraulic fracturing is safe and that oil companies have used the technology in California for decades without incident.
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.
Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) has introduced legislation that would make such disclosure mandatory; Assemblywoman Betsy Butler (D-Marina del Rey) is pushing a bill that would ban fracking in California until regulators write rules governing the procedure.
For their part, regulators have conceded the need to collect more information on hydraulic fracturing. They have pledged to begin drafting regulations later this year, using the input from the series of seven public workshops.
-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento
Photo: A fracking operation on leased farmland near Dimock, Pa. Credit: Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times