Legislation that would govern the well stimulation technique of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, continues to meet with success in the California legislature, as the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality approved two fracking-related bills, SB 4 (pdf) and SB 395 (pdf), at a hearing on May 1, 2013.
We have previously summarized SB 4 (here and here). With Wednesday’s 6-2 passing vote, it has now passed through two committees, having been approved by the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water on April 9, 2013. Authored by Senator Fran Pavley, SB 4 is the most comprehensive fracking bill now pending in either the Senate or the Assembly. As set forth in the SB 4 fact sheet, the highlights of the bill include the completion of a scientific study on various risks perceived to be associated with fracking by January 1, 2015, the completion of regulations by the Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) by the same date, the implementation of a permitting process for fracking, a 30-day public notification process, baseline and follow-up groundwater quality testing, and the cessation of fracking if the scientific study is not completed by the 2015 deadline.
Senator Pavley, speaking at Wednesday’s hearing, said:
There’s no transparency and accountability in the process right now. If we’re going to move forward we’ve got to have the correct regulatory framework in place.
SB 395, which would vest in the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) authority to regulate waste water produced from oil and gas extraction, also passed on a 6-3 vote. Speaking about her bill, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson said:
Fracking has become one of the central environmental issues of our time, and many people are rightfully concerned about the potential impact it may have on our drinking water, our agricultural water supplies, and our environment. We need to make sure there is proper oversight of the potentially toxic chemical brew that’s produced from fracking, and this bill will help do that.
Both bills now pass on to the Senate Appropriations Committee, which should be the last hurdle before a hearing on the Senate floor.