Calif. Senate vote falls short for moratorium on oil fracking

The state Senate on Wednesday failed to muster the votes needed to set a moratorium on the oil drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, until a study determines that it does not pose a health risk for the public.

Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) said her bill is needed because of public concern that the injection of water and chemicals into the ground to stimulate oil production may threaten health.

She said she does not want to increase California’s dependance on foreign oil. “However,  the safety of oil drilling is an environmental justice issue that I believe we should review with great scrutiny,” Mitchell said.

The bill garnered an 18-16 vote, three votes short of the majority needed for approval. The Senate granted Mitchell the right to try another vote later in the week.

Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) called for more emphasis on wind, solar and other green energy sources, saying that fracking has “potentially dangerous ramifications for our planet.”

But Republican lawmakers noted that they approved a study of fracking last year, which is still ongoing, with the understanding that the activity would be closely monitored in the meantime.

“In Kern County, we have been safely fracking for decades,” said Sen. Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) “SB 1132 would lead to a heavy reduction of jobs.”

Sen. Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) said the state needs gas to run on. She worried that a moratorium would drag out for months as multiple bureaucracies play a role in the study. “Then we will be reliant on tankers, rail or rationing.”