Today, the California Assembly voted to pass Senate Bill 4 (pdf), legislation proposed by Senator Fran Pavley of California’s Senate District 27. The bill, which will regulate hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the state, now returns to the Senate for its anticipated concurrence and, if approved by the Senate, will be presented to Governor Jerry Brown for signature. Early reports indicate that Governor Brown will sign the bill into law.
In a press release issued today, Senator Pavley stated:
I commend my colleagues for this crucial and difficult vote. There are still many unanswered questions about the use and impacts of fracking and acidizing, and it is in the interest of all Californians to monitor and regulate these practices. Ultimately the oil industry, not the public, should be held accountable for the costs of these activities.
Today’s vote is a major step in California’s efforts to regulate fracking. SB 4, originally introduced on December 3, 2012 (see our report here), was amended ten times, including as recently as last Friday. Indeed, many environmental groups in recent days openly opposed the bill and demanded that Senator Pavley withdraw it, contending that it had been so diluted by the various amendments that it would be preferable to have no legislation than to proceed with SB 4. Most significantly, such opponents generally advocate a ban or moratorium on fracking, an aspect that had previously been eliminated from Senator Pavley’s bill. They also oppose limits on environmental review of fracking permits under amendments adopted last Friday. Notwithstanding such opposition, the bill passed easily on a 53-18 vote.
We will provide further updates and an analysis of the final version of SB 4 here on the blog.