Infrastructure & Environment

California Governor Signs Nation's Toughest Fracking Regulations

The nation's toughest restrictions on a controversial oil drilling technique known as fracking were signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday.
September 23, 2013

The nation's toughest restrictions on a controversial oil drilling technique known as fracking were signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday.

Hotly opposed by the oil industry, the measure "establishes strong environmental protections and transparency requirements," the governor said in a statement.

At issue in the hydraulic fracturing measure is the injection of sand, water and chemicals to free oil and natural gas trapped in shale deep underground. The oil industry heralds the technique as a way to boost domestic oil and gas production; opponents contend it is unsafe and endangers underground drinking-water supplies.

Her bill, SB 4, is the sole survivor of a half-dozen fracking proposals in the Legislature this year. It requires permitting of wells, notification of neighbors living near drilling, groundwater testing and a study of fracking's impact on the environment. It takes effect Jan. 1, 2014.

The bill also would set rules for a related technique involving the shooting of acid solutions into the wells to release hydrocarbons.

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