This week California released its first ever hydraulic fracturing regulations, and the Obama administration also announced plans to expand two Northern California marine sanctuaries, extending the protected areas from Monterey Bay all the way to the picturesque Mendocino coast. The oceanic sanctuary will permanently ban oil drilling along more than 50 miles of Northern California seashore, while the proposed fracking rules will help to protect the region’s water supply and fragile environment.
Our larger federally designated ocean preserve will now expand the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries by 2,771 square miles, more than doubling their present size. And while our national marine sanctuaries ban oil drilling and regulate polluting practices such as sewage dumping by cruise ships, the environmental laws do not prohibit fishing or boating in the nature area.
Representative Lynn Woolsey led the continued effort to expand these marine sanctuaries, and the progressive Democrat explained why saving this unique stretch of precious coastline is so incredibly important:
“This area is a national treasure. It needs and it deserves permanent protection from oil and gas exploration. This is a matter of economic common sense. Jobs and livelihoods hang in the balance. No one is going to vacation on the Sonoma coast if they are looking at oil derricks.“
Finally Regulating Fracking?
In other positive environmental news this week, Governor Jerry Brown announced that his administration will force energy companies to disclose their fracking plans to the state 10 days before any potential gas drilling can begin anywhere in California. The companies also would be required to post to an online database with the locations of their work and the toxic chemicals used during the largely unregulated process, and must comply with new regulations for testing and monitoring their wells.
Many environmental groups are complaining that this is nowhere near enough hydraulic fracturing oversight, but these new rules are definitely a step in the right direction.