Depending on who you listen to, if California allows "fracking" (hydrological fracturing for petroleum extraction), the state will give into energy companies that will trash the beauty of the Golden State...or it will enrich California's public coffers and help drive America toward greater energy independence. (Some even claim it could make California "like Texas...or even Saudi Arabia.")
According to experts, there could be as much as 15 billion barrels of oil in the state's massive Monterey Shale formation that could be accessed by fracking. Even California's green-leaning Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown has said, "the potential is extraordinary" for the state.
Opponents claim that the chemicals used to frack contribute to polluted water and a variety of toxic waste products. Pro-fracking groups, however, maintain that safety and environmental protection are paramount (and being continuously improved on).
At one point, there were as many as 10 anti-fracking bills in Sacramento, but that has now been whittled down to just one piece of legislation. The surviving (proposed) law, Senate Bill 4 by Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), "would set up a permitting system, require energy companies to share more information with the state and with property owners and have the California Natural Resources Agency commission a study on the environmental repercussions of fracking."
It's hardly a millstone around the necks of energy producers, considering the value of the state's natural resources and concerns over earthquakes. As with most legislatures, California's one-party lawmaking club has a tendency toward mission creep. In other words, regardless of how seemingly insignificant the burdens are now, everyone knows they will grow.
The question is, will California exploit one of this nation's greatest energy reserves -- cleanly and responsibly -- or will it follow the path it's become accustomed to? Namely, a path that leads to greater dependency, fewer jobs, and a treasury that is further diminished?
The New Yorker Magazine