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Gov. Brown's Fracking Rules Even Fall Short of S.B. 4 Requirements
SACRAMENTO, Calif.— Gov. Jerry Brown’s oil and gas officials today released draft state hydraulic fracturing regulations that fall far short of protecting California’s air, water, communities and climate from fracking, a dangerously polluting practice that involves blasting chemical-laden water into the earth to fracture rock formations.
“Gov. Brown’s fracking regulations would leave California’s environment and public health horribly exposed to fracking pollution,” said Kassie Siegel. “These rules mostly take the narrowest, most oil industry-friendly approach to fracking that’s possible under state law. They will permit fracking to spread across the state, endangering our air, water, communities and climate. The only safe way forward for California is a halt to this inherently dangerous process.”
The draft regulations go no further to protect Californians than the bare minimum requirements in S.B. 4 — and in some instances fall short even of those minimal mandates. S.B. 4, for example, requires notice of fracking to all tenants living within a 1,500-foot radius of the wellhead of any fracked well, or within 500 feet of the horizontal projection of the subsurface portion of the well bore. Remarkably, the draft regulations attempt to restrict notification to people with a written lease by defining “tenant” as “a person or entity possessing the right to occupy a legally recognized parcel, or portion thereof, by way of a valid written agreement.” (See 1783.2(b).)
“Under California law, you don’t need a written agreement to receive legal protections as a tenant,” Siegel said. “It’s outrageous for the governor’s oil and gas officials to attempt to restrict the right to be warned that fracking may endanger your drinking water to people with a written lease.”
Among other failings, today’s regulations do not address the large increase in deadly air pollutants like particulate matter, ozone and air toxics that will accompany a fracking boom. The Central Valley and the Los Angeles Basin, where industry is poised for a massive expansion of drilling, already suffer from the worst air quality in the nation.
Oil companies engaged in fracking and other extreme oil production methods used 12 dangerous “air toxic” chemicals more than 300 times in the Los Angeles Basin over the summer, according to a recent Center report. The regulations will do nothing to reduce such air toxics.
And today’s regulations will do nothing to reduce the climate impacts of extracting and burning up to 15 billion barrels of dirty oil. Earlier this week, 20 of the country’s leading climate experts called on Gov. Jerry Brown to impose a moratorium on fracking in California, noting that fracking and other extreme oil and gas extraction techniques disrupt the climate and harm California’s efforts to be a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“Gov. Brown knows that in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we need to leave a substantial portion of the world’s fossil fuel reserves in the ground,” Siegel said. “The only sufficient regulation would be a prohibition on fracking and other extreme fossil-fuel extraction techniques.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 625,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.