Dems' Anti-Fracking Bills Could Halt Calif. Oil Boom

Image: Dems' Anti-Fracking Bills Could Halt Calif. Oil Boom A protester holds a sign against fracking during a demonstration outside of the California Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Sacramento.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013 02:13 PM

By Courtney Coren

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California Democratic legislators are pushing several anti-fracking bills, despite what some predict could be a new gold rush in the Golden State.

There could be as much as 15 billion barrels of oil in the Monterey Shale formation that could be accessed by expanded hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," which could contribute to the domestic energy supply and add millions of jobs to a suffering economy, Fox News reports.

When it comes to fracking, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown has said, "the potential is extraordinary" for the state.

However, there is growing Democratic opposition to the controversial technology: 10 anti-fracking bills have been introduced.

Several of the measures would regulate how crude is extracted from rock, force disclosure of the chemicals used in the process, how they are removed, and where they are stored.

A bill written by state Sen. Fran Pavley would impose a moratorium on fracking until more studies are completed on possible risks.

"With hydraulic fracturing, hundreds of gallons of water, laced with chemicals . . . can go horizontally underground . . . We don't know enough," she told Fox News.

One problem, according to other opponents, is the lack of a requirement that companies  disclose the frequency or the location of fracking operations.

"Companies aren't required to report fracking to anyone, not the state or the federal government," said Patrick Sullivan of the Center for Biological Diversity. "Some have made their fracking public, but they certainly don't have to."

Fracking has been in California used for decades, Fox News reported, but unlike in Colorado and Pennsylvania, where it has become a standard in oil drilling, it has a fairly clean safety record on the West Coast.

State regulators say they are drafting preliminary rules that could make anti-fracking laws unnecessary and make the drilling process safer.

"Why would you want to curtail energy production, with a technology that has proved to be safe, and (deny) the folks in the regions of the state where those benefits are going to accrue," asked asked Tupper Hull of the Western States Petroleum Association. "That just doesn't make any sense."

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