Fracking Moratorium Advances in California Senate

A bill designed to place a moratorium on all fracking activity in California was approved by a State Senate Committee Tuesday.

Sen. Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles, who introduced SB1132, was quoted by the Los Angeles Times: "Many believe it is polluting the air and water and endangering wildlife and public health." 

Several members of the the L.A. city council have also tried to link fracking to earthquakes.

The Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water passed it 5-2 after one Democrat abstained. Another bill which became law last year requires gas producers to disclose the location of wells and the chemical components of fracking fluids pumped into the ground to release the gas.

Democrat Ricardo Lara, who represents an area of Long Beach where fracking is already taking place said of the new bill, "I think an outright ban or moratorium would put a lot of my constituents out of work."

The Environmental Protection Agency has been working on a scientific report on the safety of fracking since 2011. A progress report was issued in 2012 and a draft of the final report is expected in 2014.

In Pennsylvania, a 16-month long investigation by the Department of Environmental Protection into claims that fracking had contaminated well water found fracking was not at fault.

In New York, a decision on the safety of fracking has been under consideration for more than five years. Just this week the state's health commissioner, Nirav Shah, announced his resignation. He had been under pressure from critics who suggested he was doing Gov. Cuomo's bidding by not releasing a decision. Shah has claimed for more than a year that a decision was only weeks away. A state generated review of fracking leaked to the New York Times last year concluded that it was safe. But the state never released the report to the public, instead Gov. Cuomo initiated another long delay.

SB1132 will be considered by California's Senate Environmental Quality Committee at the end of the month.


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