Update: A bill regulating fracking in California passed Tuesday in the state Senate’s Natural Resources and Water Committee.

Los Angeles County Democrat Fran Pavley’s measure requires drillers to apply for permits before they use pressurized water to extract oil from shale rock, and to inform the state how much water they use and what chemicals go into their fracking fluid.

Workers change the pipes in a fracking operation in Waynesburg, PA. (Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images)
Workers change the pipes in a fracking operation in Waynesburg, Pa. (Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images)

Pavley’s bill also would bar the Department of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) from issuing fracking permits until the state completes a study into drilling’s risks.

That provision worries Rock Zierman of the California Independent Petroleum Association. “We’ve seen this tactic used in other states, particularly in New York where they’ve been working on a study now for four years, so it becomes a de facto moratorium,” he told lawmakers at the Tuesday morning hearing.

Aside from the conditional moratorium, Pavley’s measure, SB 4, covers much of the same ground as the regulations DOGGR is in the process of drafting. Pavley told the Senate committee that her bill aims to “nudge” the department into writing tougher rules.

Pavley’s bill is one of eight fracking-related measures in front of lawmakers this year. Other bills in front of the Senate and Assembly do everything from creating a permanent ban on fracking, to tracking and regulating how drillers dispose of salt and chemical-laced fracking fluid.

Shale drilling is already underway in the Monterey formation, and legislators like Pavley are aiming to stop the the kind of thing the Central Valley Regional Water Board is accusing a Kern County driller of doing. On Tuesday, the board announced it is investigating Vintage Production California for allegedly dumping fracking wastewater into an unprotected pit.

The board’s investigation was sparked by this 2012 YouTube video showing the drilling company dumping fracking water into a trench next to its drilling site:

As the board’s release notes, proper fracking operations in the region use portable tanks that capture hydraulic fracking wastewater and contain it for proper disposal, or obtain the required environmental permits to discharge the material into systems designed to protect surface and ground water quality.

The Senate hearing followed a court ruling on Sunday that found fault with the way federal regulators have permitted fracking in Monterey County.

Here’s the story from The Associated Press:

By Garance Burke, Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Federal land managers violated a key environmental law when they auctioned off the rights to drill for oil and gas on 2,500 acres of prime public land in Monterey County, home to one of the largest deposits of shale oil in the nation, a judge ruled.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal said in a ruling posted Sunday that the Bureau of Land Management should have conducted a comprehensive environmental review of the potential impacts caused by fracking before accepting bids for the drilling rights, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.

Grewal did not say whether the leases themselves would be invalidated, but said he would decide their fate after the parties meet and send him a proposal next week.

Both county officials and environmental groups expressed concerns two years ago about BLM’s plans to auction off the drilling rights for parcels near the lush Salinas River Valley before doing a sweeping review of the impact on water, wildlife and air quality.

Fracking has been quietly occurring for decades in several oil-rich California counties, including Los Angeles, Kern, Monterey and Sacramento. Other states also use the technique to recover natural gas.

Environmentalists often worry that fracking can contaminate groundwater and pollute the air. The industry, however, has said the practice has been safely used for decades.

The leases sold in September 2011 include scenic stretches of southern Monterey County, where cattle ranchers and wine grape growers rely on tight water supplies to irrigate their pasturelands and vineyards. The area is also part of the historic range of the endangered California condor, whose global population was recently estimated at fewer than 400 birds.

The Center for Biological Diversity, one of the plaintiffs, alleged the bureau had failed to properly review the environmental risks associated with increased oil and gas development.

“This important decision recognizes that fracking poses new and unique risks to California’s air, water and wildlife that agencies simply can no longer ignore,” said Brendan Cummings, the center’s senior counsel.

Winning bidders would still need to be granted an additional permit from the bureau in order to start drilling using traditional technologies, or hydraulic fracturing, a technique to extract hard-to-reach gas and oil by pummeling rocks deep underground with high-pressure water, sand and chemicals.

Bureau spokesman David Christy said Monday afternoon he could not immediately comment on the decision as the agency had not had time to review it, but said officials planned to meet with the other parties according to the judge’s direction.

Here’s the ruling:

Fracking Ruling 13 04 07

(Video) Ruling on Monterey Fracking Knocks Regulators; Bill Advances in Senate 28 April,2014KQED News Staff and Wires

  • PaulFelixSchott

    Should not the title of this be Ed Rendell Backs
    His Own Pocket Book.

    WE THE PEOPLE need to send Ed and all local
    officials that have anything to do with Poisoning are ground and water a message
    stop worrying get to love Jail.

    SAFE DRINKING WATER RUNNING OUT FASTER
    THEN YOU THINK WORLD WIDE.

    Hydraulic Fracturing a Danger to us All.

    Why would anyone think we have water to waste.

    Some one forgot to
    tell all about all the poison chemicals that this ungodly Lisa Jackson gave a
    green light to put in are ground and water.
    And help the Industry, so to they
    will never have to disclose all the poison chemicals they have used.

    Only
    the wicked in mind Leaders in this Nation and around the world would let anyone
    Pipe Pollution into the ground to get gas in return from the Ground. Most all
    scientist have know this for many years that this will end safe drinking water
    for all that are in the area of where they are fracturing, in which Millions of
    Gallons of Dangerous Poison Chemically Treated Water are forced underground to
    break up rock and free gas. We need regulations from GODLY People that will
    stop 10,000+ wells a year drilled using hydraulic fracturing to free and make
    the Dangerous Poison Chemicals underground into gas. The primarily affect will
    be unsafe drinking water and many will become sick. THE HEALTH OF MANY WILL
    DETERIORATE because of A Few Wicked Greedy Leaders. Those who have made these
    decisions do not know Jesus Christ. Soon He will say i know you not. They belong
    in jail soon it will be hell for them. What sick in mind would let or want
    anyone to put Dangerous Poison Chemicals underground or into the ground
    anywhere.

    The wicked are trying to sell and tell all if it is not near
    your home or land it is safe. This is the biggest ling of horse manure. Do they
    think most of We The People are that dumb or that most Americans lack any intelligence at all. What ever is put on
    or in the ground makes it way to our underground Aquifers, Rivers, Lakes and the
    Oceans. Every Scientist on Earth knows this and most all that have made it to
    eighth grade in school.

    So why would any Leader with a good healthy mind
    ever say or want this?

    Vote any wicked that has anything to do with this
    out of office they work for WE THE PEOPLE. Then need to go to jail. Soon it will
    be not jail but Hell. Revelation 11:18

    United We Stand In GOD We Trust

    The Lord’s Little Helper
    Paul Felix Schott

    P.S.

    Wicked Leaders telling their friends as long as you can cover it up and it
    will not get back to me it is ok with me. Are you sure we will not go to jail
    for making money by Polluting the ground and water. Of course not we make the
    laws to fit our needs not the health and welfare of others or as they used to
    say We The People. Its now the Wicked Leaders and rich Rule. Till our Lord GOD
    comes!

    Solar Energy the way to go.
    Many States Are and are Banning
    Fracking.

    Banned Hydraulic Fracturing

    Switzerland

    Spain

    Austria

    South Africa

    France

    Bulgaria

    Ireland

    Aotearoa (New Zealand)

    Nova Scotia

    Québec

    The State of Vermont

    The list is to long, to list all that have

    Banned Hydraulic Fracturing.

    Archimedes and Albert Einstein
    These two are at the top of the list
    of the World’s Greatest Scientists,
    Viewed by Scientist around the
    World.

    Sad that for the last 25 years or so of every teacher asked no
    matter what
    Grade k through 16. At least 80% of them did not know Archimedes.
    Even sadder 90%
    of them could not tell you what one of the most Brilliant
    Scientist to ever
    live on Earth. Won the Nobel Prize for.

    It was
    for the work Albert Einstein did to show the World it could get
    Free Energy,
    Electric from the SUN. (THE PHOTOVOLTAIC EFFECT).
    There is enough Energy
    from our SUN to power all are needs and
    more.

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