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California Jumps Ahead of NY With Fracking Law


Governor Jerry Brown just released new draft regulations on fracking in California, and the results look like a major boon for fracking. Although the new regulations are the culmination of a bill passed earlier this year that was expected to seriously limit the practice of fracking in the state, early reactions to the rule suggest that the energy industry has received a favorable deal: environmental groups have wasted no time in criticizing the measure as too weak, while energy companies, which fought hard against the law when it was still in the legislature, appear ready to accept the new rules going forward. The LA Times reports:

“We want a timeout,” said Kathryn Phillips, state director of the Sierra Club. “At best, these regulations can be described as a mixed bag,” she said. “At worst, they provide another example of an agency’s continued deference to a regulated entity, even at the expense of public health and the environment.” […]

The oil industry fought regulations in the Legislature, but fracking proponents say that they are comfortable with Friday’s proposal.

“These regulations are extensive but strike the right balance,” said Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Assn., a trade group. They “will ensure that the potential energy resources contained in the Monterey Shale formation can be responsibly developed.”

These regulations are only a draft, and its still possible that they could be changed dramatically before they go into effect in 2015. Nonetheless, this is a promising first step, and a sign that California is looking seriously for a way to placate some of the concerns of environmentalists without gutting the industry. These regulations are still far from perfect, but they are much, much better than the approach taken by states like New York, which has essentially banned fracking entirely. When even California has a better fracking policy than you do, you know you’re really an outlier.

[Oil rig image courtesy of Shutterstock]

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