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California rejects anti-fracking bill

The California Senate has rejected a bill that would have required energy firms to notify property owners before using hydraulic fracturing to tap oil deposits on or near their land.

The legislation, SB 1054, is regarded as a first step toward collecting information and increasing awareness about hydraulic fracturing. Currently, California does not require oil companies to disclose where they use for fracking or what chemicals they inject into the ground. Other states have imposed moratoriums and drawn up rules after toxic chemicals were discovered in drinking water near fracking operations.

Under SB 1054, oil companies would be required to give a 30-day notice to land owners whose property line or residence is within 300 feet of a fracking operation. The firms would also have to notify local governments and water boards. The state's oil and gas agency would then post the information on its website.

The measure failed, 17 to 18, with several Democrats joining their Republican colleagues in opposition. California Governor Jerry Brown could halt fracking through an executive order, but the move is considered unlikely, given that Brown has publicly stated that he feels hydraulic fracturing is good for the state because it is better to produce oil in California than to import it.

Fracking’s ability to help California produce more oil was thrown into question last week when the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) downgraded the amount of recoverable oil in the state’s Monterey shale formation by 96%, citing production difficulties at initial wells.

In the absence of statewide action, the city of Beverly Hills and the county of Santa Cruz recently voted to ban fracking even though no fracking proposals were on the table in either place. Other areas of the state are considering taking similar stands against the practice.

 

 

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