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California Deserves Disclosure on Fracking Chemicals and Water Use

For Immediate Release: 
Monday, August 15, 2011

Sacramento, CA –- Few Californians realize that the highly controversial shale gas and oil extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” has been taking place in their state for more than 50 years.

California state regulators have not tracked, monitored or regulated fracking, even though the technology injects toxic chemicals into the earth and uses as much as 8 million gallons of water per well.

Legislation introduced by Assemblymember Bob Weickowski and sponsored by Environmental Working Group and Earthworks would close the gap by requiring state regulators to track the location of fracking activities, water consumption and sources, and chemical usage on private properties near homes and schools.

“Our research found that while fracking has occurred in California for more than five decades, the California Division of Oil and Gas simply ignored that part of the oil exploration process,” said Bill Allayaud, EWG’s California Director of Government Affairs. “This legislation will help bring transparency to the process and give the public and regulators valuable data about where fracking is happening and water and chemical use.”

“My bill will provide the public with increased disclosure by requiring oil and gas producers to list the chemicals, as well as the source and volume of water used in the fracking process,” said Wieckowski, the chairman of the California Assembly’s Environmental Safety and Toxics Materials Committee.

“The public has a right to know what chemicals are being injected into our environment,” said Jennifer Krill, executive Director of Earthworks. “In fact, this was exactly the conclusion reached by a federal advisory committee studying hydraulic fracturing just last week.”

Last month, Environmental Working Group published a long-forgotten report by the Environmental Protection Agency showing that federal regulators had concluded in 1987 that fracking had contaminated drinking water in West Virginia. This report challenges the gas industry’s claim that fracking has never contaminated underground water supplies.

The Wieckowski bill, known as Assembly Bill 591, is being heard in the Senate Appropriations committee today (August 15). A vote on the Senate floor is expected by August 26.

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