Levine to introduce legislation establishing strict fracking safety standard

Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) announced today he will introduce legislation to ensure hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" poses no threat to public health and safety.

"The oil companies promise that fracking is perfectly safe. This bill simply makes them keep that promise. Public health and safety is the state's highest priority," Levine said. "We need to end the rubberstamping of oil and gas drilling permits and put in place a process that reflects this priority. Safeguards in the fracking permit process are necessary to ensure Californians continue to have a safe water supply."

Specific provisions in the bill include:

  1. All fracking permit applications would be required to demonstrate that use of the permit will present no threat to public health and safety.
  2. The Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) within the Department of Conservation may approve permit applications only if DOGGR finds that the permit presents no threat to public health and safety.
  3. Elimination of DOGGR's 10-day automatic approval process. (Currently, unless DOGGR denies the application within 10 days, it is automatically approved.)
  4. Upon approval of the permit, DOGGR will immediately notify the local regional water quality control board.
  5. DOGGR shall promulgate regulations to establish a reasonable fee to be paid by the applicant to cover costs associated with reviewing permits involving fracking.

Bill Allayaud, of the Environmental Working Group, said, "For too long, DOGGR has been answering only to oil companies; we welcome this effort to ensure that the public and California's environment are foremost in the permitting process." EWG has been instrumental in bringing to light the fact that fracking has been an unpermitted activity in California for decades.

Californians enjoy some of the most beautiful natural resources in the world. Protecting those resources and the quality of life Californians enjoy is something we take seriously. California law requires a months-long environmental review for virtually any project that might potentially have any effect on the environment. However, in fracking, oil companies are allowed to pump secret mixes of chemicals into the ground with no public or regulatory review.

Fracking is a drilling method that injects water and chemicals underground to free oil and gas from rock formations. In recent years, the use of fracking has increased as the supply of easily extractable fossil fuels is declining.