Proposed regulations meant to govern fracking in California would do little to protect the state's environment, wildlife, climate and public health, according to an analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity. Fracking — currently unmonitored in California — uses huge volumes of water mixed with dangerous chemicals to blast open rock formations and extract oil and gas.
Hundreds of wells have been fracked in California in recent years. Today's draft proposal by California's Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources was supposed to be the first step in explicitly regulating this controversial practice.
“The Department of Conservation's draft fracking rules do almost nothing to protect our air, water or climate,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute. “California faces huge environmental risks unless state officials halt this dangerous fracking boom.”
Among the biggest flaws in California's draft fracking regulations:
1. Little regulatory protection for air, water and climate: The state's draft regulations do nothing to protect people living near fracked wells from air pollutants that increase risks of cancer and respiratory illness. They do not protect residents from exposure to, or contamination by, the large volume of toxic wastewater fracking produces. They do not require well operators to use devices to capture methane, a potent greenhouse gas. The regulations completely ignore seismic risks, which science increasingly suggests are linked to fracking. Operators are even given five days to report an unauthorized release of chemical-laden fracking fluids.
2. No requirement to collect and disclose baseline data needed for effective regulation: Well operators would not be required to collect basic air-quality and water-quality data prior to fracking — data needed to effectively verify no damages occur from fracking.