Senator Holly Mitchell’s Fracking Moratorium bill moves forward

April 09, 2014

In the first effort this year to address the environmental justice concerns associated with fracking, a bill by Senators Holly J. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), which would impose a moratorium on the practice in California, has passed out of the Senate’s Natural Resources and Water Committee.

SB 1132 would halt hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” – the infusion under high pressure of chemicals, sand and water underground to release oil or natural gas – until state-sponsored research determines whether it can be done safely and the conditions for its regulated use. The bill would place a similar temporary ban on other well stimulation practices increasingly used in urban neighborhoods, such as acidization.

On a party line vote, the panel sent the bill to the Senate Environmental Quality Committee for further consideration. SB 1132 is the only bill pending in the Legislature which seeks to regulate fracking and other methods of oil extraction beyond traditional drilling.

“The largest urban oil field in the country is in a predominantly minority, residential neighborhood of my district,” said Senator Mitchell, who represents Culver City and densely populated parts of South Los Angeles that lie within half a mile of the Inglewood Oil Field which surrounds Kenneth Hahn State Park. “Yet no one has proven that fracking can be done safely close to so many homes and schools."

“With so many remaining questions about chemical use, earthquakes, drinking water contamination, and local air quality impacts, the only prudent move is to press the pause button on fracking in California,” added Victoria Rome, California Legislative Director, Natural Resources Defense Council. “Fracking is a dirty energy technology, the risks of which have never been fully examined. Given the lack of research and proven safety measures, Senator Mitchell’s legislation is the only safe and smart path forward.”