California is leading the way on fracking legislation, with the passage of California Senate Bill 4, frackers in California are now required to follow a new set of rules on disclosure of their fracking fluids and the impacts they have on the environment. The law requires that fracking operators publish the proportions, quantity, and chemical names of all of the components of their fracking fluid, and to provide free testing of water sources nearby the fracked wells. The law also requires disclosure on how much wastewater is produced, its chemical composition, and how it is disposed off. A particularly good measure will be a requirement for the monitoring of groundwater before, during, and after fracking operations.
The law is being attacked by both the fracking industry and environmentalists. Environmentalists see the law as too weak. One group sent a petition to Governor Brown of California, asking him to pass a ban on all fracking in the state. Industry groups have claimed that this bill will make it harder to frack and slow down growth in the state, threatening growth in California.
Fracking can cause contamination of aquifers and small earthquakes, as multiple studies have concluded. However, there has yet to be a comprehensive scientific study looking at large number of wells on the effects of fracking on ground water and seismic activity in a broad area. By making testing mandatory this law could provide clear and definitive data on fracking and foster a much better understanding of the practice. While some my say that a ban is necessary, it perhaps premature before a comprehensive scientific study has been conducted. Should the data this law will provide make it clear that fracking is an imminent danger to water quality, it would then be appropriate and necessary to pass a law banning the practice entirely.