CA State Sen. Holly Mitchell bill would impose moratorium on fracking & acidization

February 20, 2014

Sacramento, CA – State Senators Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) introduced legislation to protect the health and safety of Californians from the potentially harmful consequences of unconventional well stimulation and drilling.

SB 1132 calls for a moratorium on all forms of extreme well stimulation, including hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” and acidization until a comprehensive, independent and multi-agency review exploring the economic, environmental and public health impacts is complete.The study will also include evaluation of the adverse and disparate health impacts and environmental burdens affecting lower-income and minority communities.It further requires that Governor Jerry Brown act in response to the study’s findings to determine if and where fracking and other well stimulation may resume.

“There are a million Angelenos that live within a 5-mile radius of the largest urban oil field in the country,” said Senator Mitchell, whose predominantly minority district includes the Inglewood Oil Field. “In my district vulnerable neighborhoods lie adjacent to drilling operations whose practices go largely unregulated. Complaints that residents are exposed to hazardous chemicals and toxic pollutants and which cause all kinds of health symptoms have been ignored. When industrial operations like fracking and acidization disproportionately impact minority communities, environmental justice has been breached and needs to be restored. SB 1132 will do that.”

Current California law does not regulate either fracking or acidization. Of the more than 750 chemicals used in fracking, at least 29 of them are known to be harmful to human health. These chemicals, including hydrofluoric acid and benzene, have been linked to cancer, respiratory, developmental, and neurological problems, yet the practice of fracking and other potentially dangerous methods of oil and gas extraction continue to spread.

A bill passed last year requires an independent study of fracking. SB 1132 would expand its scope to include health risks posed by chemicals used in other forms of well stimulation, the safety of industry workers and nearby residents, as well as the state’s water supply.

“A moratorium on fracking is especially critical as California faces a severe drought with water resources at an all-time low,” said Senator Leno. “We are currently allowing fracking operations to expand despite the potential consequences on our water supply, including availability and price of water, the potential for drinking water contamination and the generation of billions of barrels of polluted water.”