A first-in-the nation bill to regulate hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in the exploration for underground oil and gas deposits was approved by the Legislature and sent to the governor’s desk.
The legislation by Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, requires state environmental regulators and state and regional water boards to get together to draft the new rules. Pavley’s bill does not include a moratorium on fracking, something which had been sought by some environmentalists and activists.
Her measure, SB 4, requires companies to provide details and amounts of the chemicals – such as acids — and procedures in their use of hydraulic fracturing, which has been employed in California for several decades. The bill also requires scientific studies of fracking, state permits for wells and disclosure of impacts on water. The bill, which earlier passed the Senate in a different form, was approved Wednesday in the Assembly and by the Senate several hours later.
The issue has gained new attention in California because of the huge oil and gas deposits in the Monterey Shale, a 1,750-square-mile underground formation that includes much of the San Joaquin Valley down to Bakersfield and which by one estimate contains 15.4 billion barrels of oil, about two-thirds of the nation’s entire reserves.
Ed’s Note: Updates throughout with measure approved in both houses and sent to the governor.