UPDATE April 9, 2013: SB 4 passed out of the Senate Natural Resources Committee by a 6-2 vote.
The comprehensive fracking legislation authored by Senator Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, will face its first committee vote on Tuesday, April 9.
SB 4 will go before the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee, chaired by Senator Pavley, at 9:30 a.m. in room 112 in the Capitol. The bill is an attempt to establish wide-ranging protections for the public when it comes to the rapidly-growing practice of hydraulic fracturing of underground rocks to get the oil and gas inside.
“The public is concerned,” Senator Pavley said. “They have become aware of both the huge amount of fracking we could see in California, and of how little we know about the operations already taking place in our state.”
The bill would put many new protections on what is now a largely unregulated industrial practice. For the first time, frackers would need to obtain a permit, give 30-day’s notice of operations to nearby property owners, and provide regulators with a list of chemicals they plan to use. The bill provides for trade secret protections the industry wants, but also requires them to fund air and water quality monitoring. Many of these regulations are similar to ones either proposed or already in place in numerous other states.
“These are the kinds of basic protections needed to protect public safety,” Senator Pavley said. “We have already seen contaminated water from other industrial sources sicken people and destroy entire towns in California. We must not repeat this pattern.”
Senator Pavley carried related legislation in 2012. That bill, SB 1054, would have required notification of neighbors and regulators, including water boards, before fracking could take place. It died on the Senate floor after a major industry lobbying effort.
California legislators are now carrying at least seven other fracking bills. Several are far more restrictive than SB 4, including a trio of Assembly bills that would immediately place a multi-year moratorium on all fracking operations. SB 4 would allow fracking to continue, as long as an independent scientific study on fracking in California was completed by January 1, 2015. Some environmental activists are also calling for an outright ban on all fracking.