The Assembly Committee on Appropriations failed to reach a decision at yesterday’s hearing on SB 4 – the lone surviving bill relating to hydraulic fracturing in the California Legislature.  Appropriations delayed a vote on the newly amended SB 4 for another two weeks after hearing extensive testimony on the bill.  At the hearing, representatives on both sides of the issue rejected the bill.  Industry representatives argued that the bill is too broad for regulating acid injection in addition to fracking.  Meanwhile, environmental groups asserted that the bill is too lenient on fracking fluid disclosure requirements.

Just days before the hearing, Senator Fran Pavley, the bill’s original sponsor, amended SB 4 presumably in response to recommendations provided by Governor Brown’s administration.  However, Pavley’s amended SB 4 failed to address most of the Governor’s recommendations, including the removal of acid injection and the addition of a regional groundwater monitoring program.  Acid injection was a late addition to the bill in the Assembly after the bill had passed in the Senate (see June 20, 2013, post).  The regional groundwater monitoring program was allegedly requested by the State Water Resources Control Board primarily for the purpose of increasing revenue.

If SB 4 passes Appropriations and a vote on the Assembly floor without addressing Governor Brown’s recommendations, Brown has indicated that he may veto the bill.  However, there is increasing pressure for the Governor to sign the bill to address the public’s concerns relating to the potential impacts of fracking.

Co-authored by Michael N. Mills and Robin B. Seifried.