Fracking (hydraulic fracturing)



The League of Women Voters of California advocates on fracking (hydraulic fracturing) based on the following positions:


California is sitting on one of the largest shale oil deposits, estimated to hold more than 50% of the recoverable oil in the United States. Stretching from the Central Coast to the San Joaquin Valley, the Monterey Shale Formation may be the next frontier of oil exploration in the state.

That is, if the people of California are willing to let it be fracked. This jumble of subterranean rock, folded over and over by time, will not give up its treasure easily. In order to extract the oll, large amounts of fresh water, coupled with toxic chemicals and acids, will need to be pumped into the earth in order to break up the shale -- fracking -- and release the oil. The petroleium industry says this can be done safely, but the environmental community is not so sure.

SB 4 (Pavley)

Fracking is already occuring in California, and in the ocean off the coast, with little or no oversight. That is why SB 4 (Pavley) was passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Brown in September 2013. This bill establishes a comprehensive statutory framework -- the strongest in the country -- for regulating hydraulic fracturing and acidization of oil and gas wells.

The LWVC is committed to working towards a strong and successful implementation of SB 4 as the state moves down this new path.

This op-ed in the Sacramento Bee on October 5, 2013  by Senator Pavley lays out her arguments for SB 4.

Other League Action on Fracking

In October, 2013, the California League joined with more than 100 other groups to urge the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to cancel all oil and natural gas lease sales on federal lands in the state until after it has finished a broad analysis of the environmental impacts of drilling and the use of hydraulic fracturing. 

In May, 2013 the BLM canceled all oil and gas leases in the state through the fiscal 2013 budget year. That was due to the budget sequester, which forced the agency to prioritize the resources it can commit for oil and gas development on federal lands. Read more.

In 2012 the LWVUS made its voice heard to several regulatory authorities of the federal government in relation to “fracking.”  Comments went to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The full comments are available here.

Other Information on Fracking in California

Frack Attack -- a report from Mission & State about the Environmental Defense Center report on fracking off the Santa Barbara coast, this report links to the EDC report as well as other documents

A USA Today report on fracking off Long Beach

What You and Your Local League Can Do

If your local League is concerned about fracking in your local area, and you want to take action locally, there are good examples of what has been done on a local scale:

  • Santa Barbara County statutes
  • Santa Cruz County moratorium
  • South Coast Air Quality Management District air regulations


Additional materials: 
PDF icon SB 4 fact sheet.pdf729.48 KB