California Democrats have suffered a setback in their anti-fracking efforts, but will continue to push for more rules on the controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing.
The California legislature opted not to follow in the footsteps of New Jersey and New York, defeating a bill that would have put a moratorium on fracking within the state until regulations could be imposed.
“The safety of this method of oil extraction has come into question,” said Democratic Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell, who sponsored the moratorium bill.
“With hydraulic fracturing, hundreds of gallons of water, laced with chemicals, sand … can go horizontally underground. … We don’t know enough,” said California state Sen. Fran Pavley, who also pushed for a moratorium.
Despite the victory for proponents of fracking, this was just one of 10 bills introduced by Democrats designed to increase scrutiny — and regulation — of the practice.
Fox News reports that some of the bills “take aim at how crude is extracted from rock layers beyond the reach of conventional drilling” while others “call for full disclosure of what chemicals are used in the high-pressure process, how they’re removed, and where they’re stored.”
Democrats and environmentalists argue that fracking, which pumps fluids into the ground to break up rock formations, could harm air and water quality.
“Fracking is simply not worth the high costs to California’s environment, public health and agricultural industry,” writes Adam Scow, the California campaigns director for Food and Water Watch.
However, fracking has been safely going on in California for 60 years, says Rock Zierman, CEO of the California Independent Petroleum Association.
“One of the things that gets lost is what we’re doing in California doesn’t look like what they’re doing in other parts of the country,” Zierman told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “In other parts they’re doing horizontal multi-stage fracking and in CA we don’t do much of that. We do about 700 wells a year that are hydraulically fractured, it’s about a third of our wells.”
“But it’s the same process we’ve been using for 60 years, which is in vertical wells, single-stage, it takes about a day and it’s very low water volumes,” he added.