California Leaders: Clean Up Your Fracking Mess Of A Bill

Some 11th-hour shenanigans from the oil industry and the governor’s office have allowed a good bill to go bad and pass through the California legislature without a full airing on its flaws. Fracking bill SB 4 passed late last night and now goes to the governor for his signature. We need California leaders to right that wrong. And the governor also needs to put in place a moratorium until the risks of fracking can be fully evaluated – something we’ve been calling for him to do from the get-go.

Here’s what’s gone down: NRDC and our partners strongly supported SB 4 until the latest round of amendments, pushed by the oil industry and Governor Brown, called into question the applicability of CEQA and the state’s ability to halt fracking and acidization. The most problematic provision in the amendments could potentially be interpreted to give Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) broad discretion to exempt fracking and acidization from local CEQA review -- forever.

We raised these concerns immediately with the bill’s author, Senator Fran Pavley, and have been working to fix these provisions. We know Senator Pavley is committed to working with us to guard against negative, unintended outcomes of her bill. But we need our California leaders to fix this now before SB 4 heads to the governor’s desk as a bad bill. At the same time, what we desperately need is to impose a moratorium until we can fully assess the threats of fracking and acidization to California’s air, water, and neighborhoods. Governor Brown has the power to impose that moratorium and he should do so in order to protect the people of California.

Californians deserve strong, thoughtful, protective legislation that puts their communities and their health first -- not some last-minute amendments that undermine the very purpose of the bill in the first place. Government leaders: fix this mess.

About the Authors

Damon Nagami

Senior Attorney and Director, Southern California Ecosystems Project

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