California Lawmakers Urge Jerry Brown To Adopt A Fracking Moratorium

CREDIT: AP/Beck Diefenbach

A group of California lawmakers is calling on Governor Jerry Brown to ban fracking until more research is done on the health and environmental impacts of the practice.

Four California assemblymembers sent a letter to their governor asking him to put a hold on fracking while the state “fully investigate[s] the science behind fracking for oil production.”

“The vast public health and safety implications of fracking, as well as the tremendous public concern over this practice, require our collective and urgent action,” the assemblymembers write. “We believe it is time to join with Californians who disapprove of the dangers fracking poses to their communities.”

The letter is part of a CREDO Action campaign to enact a moratorium on fracking in California. The letter is signed by assemblymembers Das Williams, Adrin Nazarian, Richard Bloom and Marc Levine, who last year introduced unsuccessful legislation on fracking.

“I don’t believe we have as much information as we need to continue allowing the oil industry to work unfettered before those regulations are in place,” Levine told the Sacramento Bee.

Last year, California adopted SB 4, the state’s first fracking bill, as law, and it went into effect at the beginning of 2014. The law drew the ire of environmentalists in the state, who say it doesn’t go far enough in protecting Californians from the possible dangers of fracking. The law does require oil and gas companies to disclose the chemicals they use in the fracking process, and will require oil and gas companies to get a permit for fracking, notify neighbors before drilling, and monitor ground water and air quality. The law also stipulates that state officials will have to complete a study by 2015 that evaluates the risk of fracking, but does not impose a moratorium on the process until that study is completed. The LA Times Editorial Board called SB 4’s regulations “so watered down as to be useless.”

Following the adoption of SB 4, a group of scientists also called on Gov. Brown to adopt a moratorium on fracking while research was conducted. Twenty scientists — including James Hansen, former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and vocal advocate of taking action on climate change, and Michael Mann, professor of meteorology at Penn State University — signed the letter, which outlined the emissions impact, threat of dangerous pollution, and the vast water requirements of extracting gas and oil from California’s shale reserves.

Despite these letters, Gov. Brown’s office hasn’t signaled that it will consider a moratorium in the state.

“After extensive debate, the legislature – including the authors of this letter – voted to enact SB 4, which became effective just 5 days ago,” Gov. Brown spokesman Evan Westrup told the Sacramento Bee. “Pursuant to this bill, the regulatory process has begun and we encourage these legislators and other interested citizens to actively participate.”