A moratorium on all forms of extreme well stimulation, including hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” and acidization until a comprehensive, independent and multi-agency review exploring the economic, environmental and public health impacts is complete is being proposed in the California Legislature.
State Sens. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, and Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, are the sponsors of the legislation, SB 1132, that would also include evaluation of the adverse and disparate health impacts and environmental burdens affecting lower-income and minority communities.
It further requires that Gov. Jerry Brown act in response to the study’s findings to determine if and where fracking and other well stimulation may resume.
“There are a million Angelenos that live within a five-mile radius of the largest urban oil field in the country,” says Ms. Mitchell, whose predominantly minority district includes the Inglewood Oil Field. “In my district vulnerable neighborhoods lie adjacent to drilling operations whose practices go largely unregulated. Complaints that residents are exposed to hazardous chemicals and toxic pollutants and which cause all kinds of health symptoms have been ignored. When industrial operations like fracking and acidization disproportionately impact minority communities, environmental justice has been breached and needs to be restored.”
Current California law does not regulate either fracking or acidization. Previous efforts to regulate have been beaten back by industry lobbyists. All that could get through the Legislature last year was a bill that requires an independent study of fracking.
SB 1132 would expand its scope to include health risks posed by chemicals used in other forms of well stimulation, the safety of industry workers and nearby residents, as well as the state’s water supply.
“A moratorium on fracking is especially critical as California faces a severe drought with water resources at an all-time low,” says Mr. Leno. “We are currently allowing fracking operations to expand despite the potential consequences on our water supply, including availability and price of water, the potential for drinking water contamination and the generation of billions of barrels of polluted water.”=
Of the more than 750 chemicals used in fracking, at least 29 of them are known to be harmful to human health. These chemicals, including hydrofluoric acid and benzene, have been linked to cancer, respiratory, developmental, and neurological problems, yet the practice of fracking and other potentially dangerous methods of oil and gas extraction continue to spread, the two lawmakers say.