[Edited for clarity - DS]
California's governor on Friday signed a new law that amounts to little more than a green light for the practice of fracking. There are some mild disclosure requirements -- legislation requires drillers to disclose what chemicals they are using -- a permit before beginning the process is needed, and they will also need to test groundwater and tell neighbors before starting to drill. The legislation paves the way for dirty, carbon-intensive oil with a greater climate impact than the Keystone XL pipeline; even moderate environmental groups such as the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) pulled their support of fracking in the Monterey Shale, which potentially holds 15.4 billion barrels of oil. It's concerning for environmental groups, who earlier this week called for a moratorium until health officials could research the practice's effects. But a "compromise" is in effect: while there will be no moratorium, health officials must complete a study by January 2015. Of course, by then it will be too late to spare California from the damaging effects from fracking.
"Environmentalists across the nation have decried the practice, saying that the chemicals used pollute underground water supplies and cause other damage. New York has instituted a moratorium on fracking, and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a strict set of regulations into law in June.
In his signing statement, Brown, who favors some level of fracking in the Monterey Shale, said he believed more changes would be necessary even as the law goes into effect next year.
"The bill needs some clarifying amendments, and I will work with the author in making those changes next year," he said, although he did not specify what changes he wanted to make.
Other provisions of the legislation, which will take effect in January, will require oil companies to test ground water and notify neighboring landowners before drilling. State officials will have to complete a study by January 2015 evaluating risks of fracking and other well-stimulation techniques, such as using acid to break apart oil-rich rocks.
All California oil wells have been subject to the same regulations, with no specific rules for those using hydraulic fracturing. The Department of Conservation also has been crafting fracking regulations that officials hope to finalize next year."
Brown also signed a bill from state Senator Lois Wolk, D-Davis, which will increase the bonding amounts oil and gas drillers must post in case a well is abandoned or an operator is unable to pay for environmental damage. Those amounts have not been adjusted since 1998.
Clearly not a "win" for California.