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Bills to halt fracking fail to garner support

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POSTED May 31, 2013 10:10 p.m.

 

SACRAMENTO  (AP) — Attempts to place a moratorium on the controversial oil drilling technique known as fracking failed as the Legislature hit its first bill-passing deadline, but the industry almost certainly will face stronger regulations when this year's legislative session is over.

An Assembly bill to temporarily halt hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, did not win enough support to pass that chamber. A Senate measure will be amended to remove its proposed moratorium.

Instead of halting the practice as many environmental groups sought, lawmakers are seeking regulations that would require the disclosure of chemicals used in the process, oversight of wastewater disposal and increased public notification.

After Friday's legislative deadline, two bills remain from nearly a dozen measures introduced earlier this year on the issue.

Environmentalists have raised concerns about potential impacts from fracking, which involves injecting water, sand and chemicals into deep rock formations to release oil or natural gas.

Fracking could allow the petroleum industry to access lucrative shale oil deposits in California's San Joaquin Valley. Drilling companies say they've safely used fracking for decades in shallow traditional wells.

Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, authored SB4, which requires a scientific study on the environmental effects of fracking, testing of nearby groundwater before and after drilling, and calls for creating a state website for compiling data on fracking chemicals.

Pavley's measure calls for halting fracking if the scientific study is not completed by January 2015, a provision she promised to have removed in the Assembly.

California environmental regulators also are crafting regulations for fracking, which they aim to approve next year. But environmental advocates and some Democratic lawmakers say state regulators have done too little to keep up with the industry.

"They really aren't doing a very good job," Pavley said during Wednesday's floor debate.

 

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