The Assembly Appropriations Committee voted 12-5 Friday to approve Senate Bill 4 (Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills), clearing the way for the full Assembly to approve regulations for hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), acidizing and other unregulated oilfield practices.
Unlike at least 14 petroleum producing states including Texas and Wyoming, California does not currently regulate fracking, which is the injection of water, sand and chemicals underground to crack rock formations and free up oil and gas. The state also lacks regulations for acidizing, which is the use of hydrofluoric acid and other corrosive acids to dissolve shale rock. Oil companies have predicted acidizing could be the primary tool for accessing the Monterey Shale, the nation’s largest shale oil deposit with an estimated 15.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil.
SB 4 would require permits for fracking, acidizing and other oil well stimulation practices. It would require notification of neighbors, public disclosure of all chemicals used, groundwater and air quality monitoring and an independent scientific study. The study would evaluate potential risks such as groundwater and surface water contamination, greenhouse gas emissions, local air pollution, seismic impacts, and effects on wildlife, native plants and habitat.
“This bill will address serious unanswered questions about the safety and environmental risks of fracking and acidizing,” Senator Pavley said. “California needs strict regulations to hold the oil industry accountable for the true costs of its activities. I’d like to thank the chairman, Assemblymember Mike Gatto, for his support.”
“Senator Pavley worked tirelessly to get some meaningful regulation of fracking on the books,” said Assemblymember Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), chairman of the Assembly Appropriations Committee. This is an important step in the right direction.”
Also on Friday, the Los Angeles City Council’s Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee approved a resolution endorsing Senate Bill 4. The resolution will be considered by the City Council on Tuesday.