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Another California Fracking Bill Clears Committee

Even as work goes forward to implement new regulations (SB 4) in California on the use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) by oil and natural gas companies, another bill to ban the practice (SB1132) cleared its first hurdle Tuesday in the state Senate.

By a vote of 5-2, SB 1132, which would impose a fracking moratorium, was passed out of the state Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee to the chamber's Environmental Quality Committee. The measure, which has oil and gas representatives in the state capital scratching their heads, is likely to be taken up in the new committee by the end of April, a committee staff member told NGI's Shale Daily on Tuesday.

CREDO's Zack Malitz, legislative campaign manager of the anti-fracking group, said the positive committee vote was a "wake up call for Gov. [Jerry] Brown," who supported the rules now in effect on a preliminary basis under SB 4. CREDO and other anti-fracking organizations are targeting Brown, seeking to have him reverse his position on the issue (see Shale Daily, Oct. 11, 2013).

"Every day more elected officials in California go on the record in support of a moratorium on fracking, putting enormous pressure on Gov. Brown to split with [the oil industry] and return to the climate leadership he showed earlier in his political career," Malitz said.

CREDO has been a major lobbying force for the new legislation, including rounding up more than 21,000 voter signatures supporting the replacement of SB 4. SB 1132 is the only currently active fracking moratorium bill in the state legislature, according to a spokesman at the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), which strongly opposes the measure.

The WSPA spokesman called the latest legislative blast "a remarkable piece of legislation in that it sets up a regulatory review process that is impossible to complete." He also noted that one of the prime authors of the new legislation, state Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), voted for SB 4 when it passed last September (see Shale Daily, Sept. 13, 2013).

"After supporting [arguably] the toughest fracking rules in the nation, the following March [Mitchell] introduces legislation to impose a moratorium on fracking and puts out a press release that says fracking in California is 'unregulated'. That’s how whacky this issue has become."

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