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Several Bills Would Regulate 'Fracking' in State

Apr 30, 2013

In Colorado, fracking operations are underway. (file photo)
Credit Kathleen Masterson / Capital Public Radio

Ten bills that would regulate hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” for oil are working their way through the California legislature. The proposals range from requiring more scientific study to a moratorium. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the industry opposes almost all of the bills.

Supporters of a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in California packed a legislative hearing. Up for debate were three bills that would put a hold on the fracking process, which injects a mix of chemicals and water deep underground to release oil from rock. They fear it endangers public health and contaminates water.

“This is a situation that is crying out for regulation,” says  Democratic Assembly member Richard Bloom, who authored a fracking moratorium bill. He says he’s received 7,000 emails in support of the legislation.

“We see before us an industry that is going to resist regulation, the best way to get everybody to the table is to use a moratorium,” says Bloom.

The oil industry says regulations are already being drafted by California’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources. Tupper Hull is with Western States Petroleum Association.

“Until that process is done and we know what those final regs look like, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to go about passing a lot of legislation,” says Hull.

Oil companies argue fracking has been used safely in the state for decades. Paul Deiro with Western States told lawmakers a moratorium would mean lost jobs in the Central Valley.

“We have the potential according to the US Department of Energy of potentially extracting 15 billion barrels of oil out of the Monterrey Shale,” says Deiro.

Lawmakers have also proposed legislation that would require more scientific study, set up a permitting process, and require disclosure of chemicals used. They say state agencies aren’t doing enough. Most of the bills heard so far have passed at least one committee.