State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson and Assemblymember Das Williams have teamed up to introduce bills in their respective legislative houses that would regulate hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a controversial method of extracting gas and oil from the ground. The process typically involves blasting water, sand, and chemical additives into already drilled wells to further break up rock and release more gas and oil.
Jackson’s Senate Bill 395 would require the Department of Toxic Substances Control to define any byproduct fluids generated by fracking as hazardous waste. The regulation would create the authority to make sure appropriate precautions are taken in disposing of the fluids.
Williams introduced Assembly Bill 982 that would require companies that are fracking to monitor groundwater both before and after any fracking is done. “The oil and gas industry wants to greatly expand its presence in California, in my district and others,” Williams said in a statement. “We need to make sure their operations don’t compromise our critical groundwater supplies.”
The County of Santa Barbara became one of the first jurisdictions in the state to start closely monitoring the controversial practice, which has had minimal regulation at the state level. Two weeks ago, 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr traveled to Sacramento to testify in front of the State Senate committees on Natural Resources and Water and on Environmental Quality. Jackson was present at that meeting, as the committees heard from several state officials and stakeholders on the issue. The state is looking to reform and update its existing regulations as they relate to fracking in oil and gas production.
“Given the potential threat to our drinking water supplies, our public health, and our environment, we need to make sure there is proper oversight of the potentially toxic chemical brew that’s produced from fracking,” Jackson said in a statement.