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California Fracking Foes Pump Up Volume in Sacramento

The eclectic coalition that has become Californians Against Fracking converged Tuesday in Sacramento, targeting the state's oil/natural gas regulators who are working to implement a new set of statewide rules governing hydraulic fracturing (fracking). The protesters carried anti-fracking signs and delivered what a purported 100,000 signatures of citizens commenting on the state's draft new rules.

A 60-day public comment period ends Thursday on an environmental assessment, and the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) held its last of five public comment hearings in Long Beach last Thursday, drawing a relatively small turnout and about a dozen people who wished to voice their opinions on the proposed regulations mandated by a new state law (SB 4).

The latest activist media event, including a press conference in front of the DOGGR Sacramento headquarters, follows a  move earlier this month to target Gov. Jerry Brown (see Shale Daily, Jan. 8) through nine state lawmakers who signed a letter asking Brown to halt the current administrative process implementing fracking rules.

Billed as a coalition of environmental, climate, business, health, agriculture, labor, environmental justice and political organizations, Californians Against Fracking insists that the governor needs to halt efforts to allow fracking to continue, alleging it will suck up precious water supplies as well as potentially "contaminating our drinking water."

Groups such as CREDO, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth and Oil Change International describe the proposed new regulations as providing "a green-light to a massive expansion of fracking in the state."

Coalition groups, such as MoveOn.org, Civic Action, CREDO and the Center for Biological Diversity, began pressuring Brown at his public appearances last fall, using the same media relations firm supporting anti-Keystone XL oil pipeline demonstrations (see Shale Daily, Nov. 22, 2013).

At the final DOGGR environmental impacts public comment session in Long Beach last Thursday, two industry representatives spoke in support of the new fracking rules, while about 10 other people, including representatives from the Natural Resources Defense Council, local Sierra Club chapter, and the Oil/Gas Accountability Project all urged a moratorium and more studies of the potential adverse impacts from increased fracking.

A DOGGR attorney who hosted the public meeting said the rules development process was "in its infancy," and it had a long way to go from the current early steps to a draft environmental impact report (EIR), which was the purpose for the Long Beach public comment session and which will not be published in draft form until September. The final EIR won't be out until June 2015, he said.

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