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With Bill Undermined by Industry, CA Environmentalists Call for Fracking Moratorium

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Once there was a real split in the environmental community over fracking legislation. The National Resources Defense Council, CLCV and a number of other organizations were supporting Sen. Fran Pavley's SB 4 to regulate the process. Others were calling for a complete moratorium to ensure safety while sufficient data was gathered.

It seems that split ended when the oil and gas friendly amendments made it into the bill in the Assembly. The only remaining California bill this term to address fracking (SB 4) passed through the Assembly yesterday morning with new amendments by the oil and gas industry that undermine the bill's original intent. The Natural Resources Defense Council, California League of Conservation Voters, Clean Water Action and Environmental Working Group no longer support SB4.

"Californians deserve to have their health and drinking water sources protected from oil and gas development. Last-minute amendments, added due to oil industry pressure, threaten to weaken the environmental review required by CEQA," said Miriam Gordon, California Director of Clean Water Action.

"This unfortunate turn of events should give Governor Brown even more reason to immediately put in place a moratorium on fracking and well stimulation while the state evaluates the risks," said Damon Nagami, senior attorney for NRDC.

Prior to the introduction of the new amendments that compromise the bill, NRDC, CLCV, CWA and EWG had been working to put the critical safeguards that SB4 contains - new permit requirements, groundwater monitoring, public notification, inter agency management and independent hazards study - in place to protect Californians from risky fracking activities.

The bill has now passed the Senate concurrence as well, and is as good as on the Governor's desk. For better or worse, it looks like he is leaning toward signing it:

"The administration has worked collaboratively with the Legislature to craft a bill that comprehensively addresses potential impacts from fracking, including water and air quality, seismic activity and other potential risks," Brown spokesman Evan Westrup said in an email.

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