Meanwhile, according to The San Francisco Chronicle (3/21/13), a bill from California Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian (D-Van Nuys) would block the process of fracking until at least 2018 while a committee comprised of state officials, environmentalists, farmers and representatives from the oil industry undertake an exhaustive study.
A separate bill, submitted by Senator Fran Pavley, would allow fracking to continue while such a fracking study is compiled. But the continuation of fracking hinges on a report completed and submitted by the end of 2015. Were that not to happen, then sanctions on fracking would ensue.
Fracking, which is properly known as hydraulic fracturing, is a process designed to release oil and natural gas reserves trapped in underground shale. Water and chemicals are pumped into drilled holes under intense pressure, fracturing the shale and releasing the oil and gas stores.
The controversy comes from allegations that fracking negatively impacts area wells and groundwater.
“What I’m trying to do is say to the oil companies, ‘Look, if there’s never been a problem with fracking, if it’s safe, you need to prove that to the public,’ ” said Pavley, D-Agoura Hills Los Angeles County, in comments published in The Chronicle.
According to the California fracking report, there are as many as 15 million barrels of petroleum trapped amidst the Monterey Shale. And while the fracking process has not seen the kind of traction felt in other areas of the US, nonetheless there have been 759 wells that have been fracked in recent years.
That number is expected to grow, given the potential revenue that can be derived from fracking. A study last month from the University of Southern California estimated that developing the Monterey Shale for hydraulic fracturing could add $24.6 billion in state and local tax revenue by 2020.
“A looming fracking boom threatens to transform California, creating serious pollution risks to our air, water and climate,” said Vera Pardee, in a release issued by the Center for Biological Diversity. “Existing rules clearly cover fracking, but state officials don’t regulate or even track this dangerous way of extracting oil and gas. The state needs to stop ignoring the law and start protecting our environment.”
According to the release, there have been more than a thousand reports of water contamination throughout the US allegedly due to fracking. YouTube and social media sites are rife with images of homeowners setting fire to the water flowing from their kitchen faucets. Other communities take exception to fracking activities occurring within close proximity to schools and communities in general.
One advantage for Californians has to do with a change to the federal Safe Water Drinking Act of 2005 that exempted fracking federally. However, no such exemption exists in California. To that end, the state’s existing oil and gas regulations govern all forms of underground injection.
Under California law, fracking oil and gas companies are required to disclose fracking chemicals, as well as the undertaking and disclosure of engineering studies and tests in an effort to track potential migration of fracking chemicals beyond the fracturing envelope.
READ MORE HYDRAULIC FRACTURING LEGAL NEWS
“State regulators don’t seem concerned about fracking’s dangers,” said Patrick Sullivan of the Center for Biological Diversity, in a news release, “so it’s up to lawmakers to stop oil companies from polluting our air, contaminating our water and undermining our fight against climate change.”
Plaintiffs in fracking lawsuits have alleged contaminated groundwater and health issues stemming from fracking chemicals that have migrated into their wells and drinking water underground.