Fracking in California: Expected Increase in State Fracking Operations Prompts Legislative Action


The national debate over the use and regulation of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in the extraction of hydrocarbons has finally reached the floor of the California Senate. The push for legislative action arises from expected increases in fracking operations within the state and environmental concerns regarding potential impacts on groundwater from the chemicals used during the extraction process. Currently, California has no regulations that deal directly with the energy industry's use of fracking.

California Assembly Bill 591, however, is attempting to change all of this. If enacted, the bill would impose regulations on fracking operations in California. The bill would require oil and gas companies to disclose to the California Department of Conservation's Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) the identity of chemicals used in the fracking process, the source and amount of water used, and whether any radiological components were injected into the wells. DOGGR would then publish the chemical lists and locations of specific wells where the chemicals were used in an online database. Energy companies would also be required to notify DOGGR about their drilling processes and the history of the work performed at a well site.

The California Senate held a hearing on the bill August 15, 2011 and is expected to decide on the matter by the end of next week. The California State Assembly passed the bill along party lines on June 1, 2011. California's legislative efforts reflect heightened federal scrutiny of the increasingly common-place practice used in drilling operations across the nation.

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