Populist-enviro coalition asks Gov. Brown to halt fracking

SACRAMENTO — A coalition of over 100 environmental and populist groups is denouncing fracking legislation as too weak and calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to order an immediate halt to the controversial drilling practice.

“The truth is that there is no proven way to protect California from fracking besides prohibiting this inherently dangerous practice,” said the letter to be delivered to the governor’s office Wednesday.


Pending legislation — SB 4 by Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) — “would allow fracking operations to permanently pollute vast quantities of California’s precious water,” the statement from the groups said.

The bill, which passed the state Senate and is before the Assembly Appropriations Committee, is backed by most of the big environmental organizations, with the exception of the Sierra Club, which wants tighter regulations on fracking.

Fracking, formally known as hydraulic fracturing, employs a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals deep underground to loosen oil and natural-gas deposits locked in shale.

The Monterey Shale Formation in coastal and central California is estimated to contain 15.4-billion barrels of recoverable oil.

Gov. Brown has not taken a public stance on the Pavley bill.

But at a May news conference, Brown made it clear that exploitation of the Monterey shale oil, if done safely, could be a financial boon for California.

“I have to balance my strong commitment to deal with climate change and renewable energy with what could be a fabulous economic opportunity,” Brown said.

For her part, Pavley defended her bill as a first step in regulating fracking and a related well-stimulation method that injects acid into shale formations. Her bill also would require the public disclosure of the chemicals injected underground.

“I want to make sure we have a bill that requires disclosure, that can pass the Legislature and get a signature from the governor,” Pavley said.


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