By Sharon Bernstein
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Sept 20 (Reuters) - California's first
regulations on fracking and related oil production practices
will go into effect next year in the most populous U.S. state
under a bill signed into law on Friday by Democratic Governor
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the practice of
injecting water, sand and chemicals underground to crack rock
formations and free up oil and natural gas. The technology makes
it possible for oil companies to unlock California's vast
Monterey Shale deposit, estimated to hold 15.4 billion barrels
of recoverable oil.
But environmentalists across the nation have decried the
practice, saying that the chemicals used in the process pollute
underground water supplies and cause other damage. New York has
instituted a moratorium on fracking, and Illinois Governor Pat
Quinn signed a strict set of regulations into law in June.
The California law would require oil companies to obtain
permits for fracking as well as acidizing, the use of
hydrofluoric acid and other chemicals to dissolve shale rock.
It would also require notification of neighbors, public
disclosure of the chemicals used, as well as groundwater and air
quality monitoring and an independent scientific study.
The hotly contested bill drew strong opposition from many
environmentalists, who said it did not go far enough and
complained that a proposed moratorium was taken out, along with
some tougher regulations.
In his signing statement, Brown, who favors some level of
fracking in the Monterey Shale, said he believed more changes
would be necessary even as the law goes into effect next year.
"The bill needs some clarifying amendments, and I will work
with the author in making those changes next year," Brown said.
He did not specify what changes he wanted to make.
State Senator Fran Pavely, a Democrat who represents the Los
Angeles suburb of Agoura Hills and was the author of the new
law, said the regulations would stop oil companies from fracking
in the state without full disclosure of their methods.
"Oil companies will not be allowed to frack or acidize in
California unless they test the groundwater, notify neighbors
and list each and every chemical on the Internet," Pavely said.
"This is a first step toward greater transparency,
accountability and protection of the public and the
Opposing the measure along with the environmentalists was
the oil industry, which said the new law could make it difficult
for California to reap the benefits offered by development of
the Monterey Shale, including thousands of new jobs, increased
tax revenue, and higher incomes for residents.
The law "could create conditions that will make it difficult
to continue to provide a reliable supply of domestic petroleum
energy for California," said Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of
the Western State Petroleum Association, which represents oil
companies in California.
The law will go into effect Jan. 1, 2014.
(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Additional reporting by Rory
Carroll; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Beech)
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