“The Obama administration has tentatively settled an environmental lawsuit over oil and gas drilling in Monterey and Fresno counties with an agreement to conduct a statewide study of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and its possible effects on water and wildlife.
“The tentative settlement was announced Monday in a federal court filing in San Jose.”
“Poised on the edge of an oil boom, California now has at least a modest set of new rules to control a promising but uncertain technology that taps one of the country’s biggest pools of underground energy.
“A bill to regulate hydraulic fracturing – which injects a brew of sand, water and chemicals to break up rock formations to extract oil and gas – cleared the Legislature and will go to Gov.
“Some level of regulation of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is preferable to none. Except if the helpful aspects are canceled out by more problematic ones. That is the case with SB 4, passed by the Assembly on Wednesday. It goes back to the state Senate for final vote, and we hope it’s stopped there. If not, Gov. Jerry Brown should veto it.”
“UPDATE: The Senate approved SB 4 on a 28-8 vote Wednesday night. The measure now goes to Governor Jerry Brown, who has said through a spokesman that he will sign the bill.
“When they’re getting grief from all directions for something they’ve aired or written, reporters like to console themselves with the old saying, ‘If you’re making both sides mad, you must be doing something right.’
“In the Legislature’s upper house, the Capitol’s most well-known environmental legislator has her hands full with Senate Bill 4, an effort to impose new regulations and reporting of drilling for oil through the use of hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking.’ …
“The most recent amendments include efforts to clarify what layers of regulation would be required for an oil producer to obtain a fracking permit. But some environmental groups argue that would only fast-track the permits — an interpretation Sen.
“Legislation by Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, and Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, would allow the oil extraction technique known as fracking to continue, but with strict regulations.
“The oil industry is objecting, as are some environmental groups including the Sierra Club, which wants a total ban, not regulation. But other environmentalists see the wisdom of Senate Bill 4. The bill would impose a level of scrutiny found in no other state.
From The Sacramento Bee, a commentary by John T. Young Jr.:
“If fully tapped, the Monterey shale could be a game-changer for California’s energy portfolio, as well as the broader statewide economy. … But tapping this kind of oil supply isn’t easy, especially in a state like California, where resources are so heavily regulated.
“Democrat Fran Pavley’s oil fracking regulation bill is one of the most significant and controversial that the Legislature is fighting over in the final days of its 2013 session, scheduled to adjourn Sept. 13. …
“Mix the topics of oil, water, toxic chemicals and acid together and you get a volatile political brew.”
“Los Angeles City Council members Paul Koretz and Mike Bonin are calling for a moratorium on the practice of hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking,’ which is used by energy companies to extract hard-to-reach oil.
“In a prepared statement Tuesday, the councilmen called fracking and its related processes a “major threat” to the city’s local water supply, air quality and private property.