California Passes Only a Fraction of Its Fracking Bills

admin | June 05, 2013

With the May 31 legislative deadline, California closed the books on several bills to regulate the drilling technique known as "hydraulic fracturing," or "fracking." Now, of a dozen fracking bills introduced this session, only two survive, three have been rejected, and the rest died without ever seeing a floor vote. 

Some of these bills had proposed a temporary ban, or "moratorium," on fracking. The only moratorium bill to make it to vote, AB 1323, failed 24-37 on May 30. Originally, AB 1323 would have banned fracking until the completion of a study on its impact, but the bill's author, Sen. Holly Mitchell, amended the bill to lift the ban as soon as the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) enacts a regulatory program. "DOGGR has the statutory responsibility to regulate fracking," the assembly floor analysis notes, "but to date has not done so."

SB 4 is among the surviving bills. If passed in the Assembly it would require testing of local groundwater before and after drilling and the creation of a state website that would compile data on fracking chemicals. While it currently calls for a moratorium in the event that a scientific study on the impact of fracking is not completed by 2015, its author, Sen. Fran Pavely, has promised this stipulation will be removed in the Assembly. The other surviving bill, AB 665, increases the indemnity bonds for abandoned wells.

Data: MapLight analysis of campaign contributions to members of the California State Assembly and Senate from interest groups in support of or opposition to bills related to hydraulic fracturing from January 1, 2011—December 31, 2012. Contributions data source: National Institute of Money in State Politics

  • Interest groups opposing AB 1323 have contributed 7.1 times as much money as groups supporting it.
  • Members of the Assembly voting "NO" on AB 1323 received, on average, 31 times as much money from opposing groups as from supporting groups.
  • Seventeen members of the Assembly "Not Voting" on AB 1323 received 5 times as much money from opposing groups as from supporting groups. All non-voting members are Democrats. The bill failed 24-37.
  • Eight of the 12 bills* identified by MapLight as relevant to fracking were opposed by the Western States Petroleum Association, whose members include ExxonMobil, Valero, BP, and Chevron.
Organization (PAC) Campaign Contributions to California State Legislature
British Petroleum $28,450
Chevron $292,700
ExxonMobil $72,000
Valero Energy $71,300
Total: $464,450
* Bills in the 2012-2013 session related to hydraulic fracturing:
Photo credit: WCN24 / Flickr