By, Rev. Canon Sally Bingham – California Interfaith Power & Light
A deeply contested debate is happening in Sacramento over SB 4, Senator Pavley’s bill that would put into place safeguards governing the practice of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”.). These practices inject a mixture of chemicals, water and sand Â into rock formations in order to create small fractures allowing for extraction of otherwise unattainable oil and gas. Currently, there is little oversight of these practices, and they are exempt from the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. With the recently added amendments, SB 4 would put into place rigorous guidelines governing this practice. These amendments are supported by environmental, health, social justice and faith organizations.
According to Senator Pavley, the state “cannot tell you where wells are being fracked, what chemicals are being used and where the waste fluids are stored.” The use of chemicals is a concern because of possible groundwater contamination. Disposal of fracking waste has also been linked to earthquakes in other states, leading to concern in earthquake-prone California. There is no official or regular inspection of groundwater or of the abandoned wells once they have been fracked. Californians have a right to this information and to safeguards governing this practice.