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Culver City Council calls on state to ban fracking temporarily

July 3, 2012 |  8:34 am

This post has been updated. See below for details.

The Culver City Council approved a resolution Monday night urging Gov. Jerry Brown and state regulators to impose a ban on hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, until regulations have been adopted.

"This was a resolution that was necessary and increases pressure for a comprehensive set of regulations from the state level," said Mayor Andrew Weissman.

The resolution calls on the California Department of Conservation's Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources to ban fracking until regulations ensuring the protection of public health, safety and the environment are enacted.

The council’s unanimous decision comes a week before the completion of a fracking study at the Inglewood Oil Field, which is surrounded by Culver City, Baldwin Hills and a handful of neighborhood tracts and is the largest urban oil field in the country.

For weeks, residents have been expressing their concerns to city leaders over the potential risks associated with fracking. The technique involves blasting millions of gallons of water infused with sand and chemicals to shatter rock formations to release gas and oil.

[Updated on July 3, 1:08 p.m. The California Independent Petroleum Assn., a nonprofit trade group, says fracking has been used safely in California since the 1950s.

"All wells are on the same body of regulations," said Rock Zierman, chief executive of the association. "Every well that is fractured is heavily regulated and permitted by state engineers."]

Still, the method has come under some criticism. 

Late last year, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a report in a Wyoming case in which federal regulators said fracking was the probable cause of tainted water supplies.

Then in March, scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey said the disposal of wastewater from injection wells was linked to seismic activity near the extraction sites.

That has some of the residents living by the oil field worried because the site lies above the Newport-Inglewood Fault line. USGS officials say the fault is capable of producing a 7.4 magnitude quake.

Last month, state regulators hosted a workshop in Culver City on fracking in an attempt to receive feedback from the public. More than 400 people attended, most of them there to push for a ban on fracking.

City officials on Monday said they were prompted to vote on the resolution after receiving very little information from the workshop.

"I'm begging for more information," said Councilman Micheál O'Leary.

Environmental activists say Culver City is the first in the state to take such action.

"Now I'm calling on the governor to approve the ban," said Rick Tuttle, a four-year resident of Culver City. "We got to have a ban here in California."


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