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Fracking Survives In California As Senate Blocks Bill

A bill that would have banned hydraulic fracturing in California along with most other ways of extracting crude oil failed to pass the state Senate’s Natural Resources and Water Committee by one vote.

The sponsors of the bill that enjoyed strong support from environmentalist organizations said, as quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle, they were “extremely disappointed”.

While popular among environmentalists and climate change advocates, however, the anti-fracking bill was the opposite of popular among other groups, including labor unions and legislators who were worried about its negative effect on employment in California’s oil industry. The state is the nation’s seventh-largest producer of crude oil.

The Los Angeles Times notes that the state’s oil industry has substantial influence over Central Valley legislators. At the same time, trade unions are a force to be reckoned with in the Democratic Party. The daily also noted Governor Gavin Newsom’s vocal support for the bill, which was basically a more aggressive version of an anti-frack proposal he had. Newsom’s proposal envisaged a ban on hydraulic fracturing and the establishment of buffer zones around conventional wells to protect nearby communities.

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“Obviously I’m very disappointed,” state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), one of the sponsors of the legislation, said, as quoted by the LA Times. “California really has not done what it needs to do in terms of addressing the oil problem. We have communities that are suffering right now, and the Legislature has repeatedly failed to act.”

The sponsors of SB467, however, are not giving up. In a statement following the vote of the Natural Resources and Water Committee, Sen. Scott Wiener and Sen. Monique Limon said, “While we saw this effort defeated today, this issue isn’t going away,” Wiener and Limon said in their statement. “We’ll continue to fight for aggressive climate action, against harmful drilling and for the health of our communities.”

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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