Yesterday, Senators Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) introduced Senate Bill (SB) 1132 to the California Legislature, which calls for a moratorium on fracking and other types of unconventional well stimulation (like acidizing).
Current law (SB4) requires an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) but there are at least two problems with it:
- Fracking and acidizing are allowed to continue while regulators conduct the EIR – essentially treating Californians’ water and health as fracking guinea pigs
- The current EIR doesn’t assess the full range of impacts of fracking/acidizing.
SB1132 fixes both of these issues. It expands the scope of the current EIR to include economic impacts, effects on private property and land use, as well as the risks to workers laboring in state’s oil fields. And, perhaps even more importantly, it places a moratorium on fracking/acidizing until the EIR is complete AND the review demonstrates that it can be done safely.
We are skeptical that fracking/acidizing can be done safely. A growing body of research has linked fracking to increased air pollution, water contamination, negative effects on public health, and induced seismicity. The current drought shows how much our economy is dependent on a stable global climate. Neither California nor the rest of the world can afford the greenhouse gas emissions that would come from expanding our in-state oil industry.
Fracking and well stimulation permanently pollute millions of gallons of water annually. Thousands of acres of land are laying fallow in the San Joaquin Valley, while cattle ranchers are being forced to sell their stocks. Why should agricultural and urban users struggle to secure water while oil and gas companies are allowed to frack with it?
Californians value a clean environment and healthy communities. But California’s Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources cannot currently protect us from the impacts of fracking. If it could, the EIR wouldn’t be necessary. From earthquakes, to air pollution, to water pollution, the oil companies' answer to public concerns has been, 'trust us'. Well, we don't trust them. That's why we need the moratorium and expanded EIR provided by SB1132.
We commend Senators Mitchell and Leno for their efforts, and call on all legislators to support SB1132. Let’s put people ahead of oil companies’ profits.