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Follow the Fracking Rules

California drafts a new bill that will force oil and gas companies reveal more information about the chemicals used when fracking.

By Colleen Supan, Managing Editor, Urban Farm

Friday, January 04, 2013

oil refinery

Photo courtesy iStockphoto/Thinkstock

A new California bill will add more transparency to oil companies that frack.

Hydraulic fracturing, "fracking,” companies may soon be revealing more information about their fracking explorations, due to a new draft for a bill by California Governor Jerry Brown’s administration. Although it will take a long time for the bill to pass, this may be the start of a nationwide change. Nine other states have already imposed these new regulations.

According to Bloomberg News, oil companies throughout the U.S. withhold one out of every five chemicals used in fracking. Opposition to the new regulations state the current trade-secret clause protects their proprietary formulas.

The potential safety issues regarding drinking-water contamination and carcinogens used during the fracking process has public-health advocates and environmentalists hoping for some changes in the amount of information oil companies reveal, mainly for safety reasons. Regulators state they need this specific information in case of a spill or accident. Requirements in checking the integrity of wells will also change. Chief Deputy Director of the state Department of Conservation Jason Marshall says, "We don’t want slipshod work done.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, State Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), who introduced legislation to require oil companies to issue advance notice when fracking, states, "… I want to see more transparency and disclosure to the public.”

An area called the Monterey Shale Formation, which lies under Kern, Kings, Fresno, Madera, Merced, Monterey, Santa Barbara, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Stanislaus, Tulare and Ventura counties, is the largest oil-shale formation in the United States, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s report Review of Emerging Resources: U.S. Shale Gas and Shale Oil Plays – July 2011. This area holds 64 percent of the total shale oil resources, which makes for a very prosperous area for oil companies. Almost 18,000 acres of land in the Monterey shale area were leased within 10 minutes at a recent federal auction at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Sacramento.


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