Yesterday, the California State Senate rejected a bill that would have put a moratorium on fracking until a state-commissioned study determined that it was safe. The bill, Senate Bill 1132, would have prohibited all “well stimulation treatments”—including fracking and acid well stimulation—while requiring the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency to commission an “independent scientific study” no later than June 30, 2016. According to the bill, the study would have evaluated “the hazards and risks and potential hazards and risks that well stimulation treatments and well stimulation treatment-related activities pose to natural resources and public, occupational, and environmental health and safety.”
Once the study was completed, the bill would have required the Governor to determine whether there were sufficient measures in place to address any adverse impacts identified in the study. If the Governor determined that sufficient measures were not in place, the moratorium would have remained in place. If the Governor determined that there were sufficient measures in place to address concerns, the moratorium would have terminated 90 days later.
The bill’s sponsor, Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) argued that the bill would hit the “pause” button on fracking because “the safety of oil drilling is an environmental justice issue” that she believes should be reviewed with “great scrutiny.” Opponents argued that the bill was unnecessary because California passed a law last year to regulate hydraulic fracking. Opponents also argued that the bill would have led to a “heavy reduction of jobs.” The bill failed with an 18-16 vote, but the Senate left open the possibility that the bill could be reconsidered.