Today, the California State Senate rejected SB 1132, the second attempt by anti-fracking activists to impose a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in the Golden State. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), received only 16 “aye” votes in the 40-member body. (Three members are currently on leave.)
Last year, a similar “moratorium” bill received only 24 votes in the 80-member State Assembly.
This vote should come as little surprise. The fact is that all Republicans and most Democrats in Sacramento – including the Governor himself, one of the most prominent environmentalists of the last 40 years – oppose a moratorium. They understand that scientists and regulators all over the country have confirmed that fracking is a fundamentally safe process that has not led to the negative environmental impacts the activists claim. They know that a better approach is to insist on a strong regulatory regime, rather than shutting down economic activity altogether.
Unsurprisingly, SB 1132 received strong bipartisan opposition. After all, a vote for the bill was a vote to immediately halt fully one-third of California’s energy economy: industry hydraulically fractured about 800 of the approximately 3,000 wells that were drilled last year. As the third-largest energy producing state in the country, this would have an enormous impact on our economy, especially for the thousands of men and women who have jobs producing the energy that Californians use each day. Banning or even temporarily stopping this economic engine would be like engaging the parking brake while driving 70 mph on a freeway.
Activists have certainly succeeded in scaring a handful of California lawmakers into believing that fracking represents an inherent threat to the environment. Thankfully, these few lawmakers – like the ‘ban fracking’ movement as a whole – constitute a narrow minority of opinion.
Instead of continuing to push dead-end proposals like drilling bans (which is what a fracking moratorium really is), industry, government, responsible environmental groups, and concerned citizens should continue to move forward together. This will ensure that California continues to lead the nation in our ability to balance resource development – and all the jobs and economic growth it provides – with the environmental protection that we all support.