Politics

Enviros attack CA Dems’ fracking bill

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor
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Environmentalists are protesting a Democratic bill on its way to California Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk that would regulate — but not ban — hydraulic fracturing.

On Wednesday, California lawmakers passed a bill that would “erect a permitting system, mandate groundwater monitoring and dictate more disclosure, including having fracking firms notify neighbors of planned wells and release more information about the chemicals they shoot underground,” The Fresno Beer reports.

Environmental activists were displeased.

“This bill will not protect Californians from the enormous threats of fracking pollution,” said Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “Fracking poses unacceptable risks to the air we breathe, the water we drink and our climate. We’ll keep working to end this inherently dangerous activity in our state.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is part of Californians Against Fracking — a coalition of environmental groups that have been pushing for a complete ban on fracking in California and have adamantly opposed the more moderate bill, which has been backed by state Democrats.

“There’s only one prudent next step to protect California’s water, air, and climate – for Governor Brown to place an immediate moratorium on fracking, acidizing, and other unconventional methods of exploiting fossil fuels,” said Victoria Kaplan, campaign director at MoveOn.org.

However, state Democrats have supported the bill despite the fact that it’s not a complete moratorium on fracking.

“I still believe that a moratorium is the best way to go with respect to fracking,” said Democratic Assemblyman Richard Bloom, “but this bill is the next best alternative.”

“Let’s bring on the boom, and let’s make sure the constituents are protected,” said Democratic Assemblyman Adam Gray.

The bill even garnered some Republican support.

“It could be a very significant job-creator in the state of California,” said Republican state Sen. Anthony Cannella.

Not all Republicans supported the bill, however.

“This bill is something that will stop or hurt jobs and economic growth in California,” said Republican Assemblywoman Shannon Grove.

Brown’s office said he is likely to sign the bill.

The Environmental Protection Agency has failed to link fracking to groundwater contamination in three separate investigations, and the Energy Department also recently released a study saying that the drilling practice was safe.

The bill “tragically green-lights an extremely dangerous practice with terrible public health impacts near the homes and schools of California’s communities already most overburdened by pollution,” said Madeline Stano of the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment.

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