State issues toughest-in-the-nation fracking rules

State officials on Wednesday formally adopted new rules governing hydraulic fracturing in California, setting in motion some of the toughest guidelines in the nation for the controversial oil extraction practice.

The oil and gas agency also released its environmental impact report that concluded fracking could have “significant and unavoidable impacts” on a number of fronts, including air quality, greenhouse gas emissions and public safety.

The regulations, which lawmakers approved in 2013, require oil companies to expand monitoring and reporting of water use and water quality, conduct broad analysis of potential engineering and seismic impacts of their operations, and comprehensively disclose chemicals used during fracking and other operations.

The full implementation of the law comes as the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources -- the agency charged with enforcing the rules -- faces increasing criticism from lawmakers over its failure to adequately oversee oil and gas operations.

The fracking regulations are the product of SB 4, authored by Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills). The landmark legislation greatly expands the volume of information about oil operations that will be publicly available. Implementation of the new law has also exposed impacts of oil production operations on air and water, drawing the attention of the state agency charged with protecting those resources.

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