As energy companies seek to plumb vast reserves of underground oil in California through the controversial drilling technique known as fracking, voters are concerned about its safety and uneasy with the state’s lack of oversight, according to a new poll.
Join us at 9 a.m. as we discuss the findings with Times Sacramento Bureau Chief Evan Halper.
More than half of voters — 58% — say they favor a moratorium on the process of injecting chemicals deep into the ground to tap oil and natural gas deposits embedded in rock until an independent commission has studied its environmental effects. More than seven in 10 say they either want the process banned outright or more heavily regulated, according to the poll by the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the Los Angeles Times.
Voters’ concern about the environmental and safety implications of fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, surfaced repeatedly. Almost three in five voters said fracking should be prohibited in areas immediately surrounding sources of groundwater. And by a 15-point margin, a majority of voters backed tax incentives for companies with a record of operating safely.
Despite California’s reputation as a trendsetter in environmental protection, it lags behind other parts of the country in the extent to which it has demanded oversight of the drilling method. Energy firms are permitted to keep secret the mix of chemicals they use to extract the oil and gas, the state is not given explicit notice of when and where fracking is taking place, and the rules in place to protect groundwater are not as strict as in some other states.