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Activists Protest Pavley's Hydraulic Fracking Regulation Bill

Around 50 activists gathered outside Sen. Fran Pavley's Calabasas offices Monday, caling on the senator to withdraw her bill to regulate hydraulic fracking.

By Susan Pascal

Chanting "Ban fracking now," approximately 50 activists gathered outside Sen. Fran Pavley's Calabasas offices Monday afternoon to publicly request that the senator withdraw Senate Bill 4, which proposes to regulate hydraulic fracking.

Rally organizers, which consisted of Pavley constituents as well as activists from various environmental groups like CREDO and MoveOn.org, acquired nearly 19,000 signatures on a petition hoping that Pavley would change her position and fight for a fracking ban instead.

Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, is a technique of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth. The process involves drilling which allows for the injection of highly pressurized fracking fluids into the rock. Once a well is dug, it is cased with cement and the shale is hydraulically fractured with water and other fluids.

"This bill doesn't regulate fracking," Lauren Steiner, campaign organizer, said during her speech. "It sets up a regulatory framework. It orders a study of fracking, has provisions for permitting, groundwater monitoring, notifications and disclosure of chemicals."

According to a fact sheet provided by Pavley's office, SB 4 "provides a comprehensive statutory framework for fracking and acidization as part of a general well stimulation regulation in California."

In addition, the bill would require that the Natural Resources Agency commission a scientific study on the safety of fracking to be finished by Jan. 1, 2015. If the study is not completed by the deadline, the issuance of fracking permits would be suspended until it is finished. 

Steiner likened the contents of the bill to a notification of a murder plot.

"We don't need need any more studies to show us fracking is harmful," she said. " ... telling someone when you are going to frack, where you are going to frack and what chemicals you are going to use is like a murderer telling you I am going to shoot you at your front porch tomorrow at noon using an AK 47. At the end of the day, you're still dead."

Bob Nast, of Hollywood Beach, said his reason for attending the rally was based on personal experience with fracking. Prior to moving back to to California, he said he and his wife lived an "idyllic" life in a cabin on a natural lake in northeastern Pennsylvania.

"Everything was going fine until they started an exploration of wells, less than a mile and a half from the lake. Even though it came up dry, the standard of living there went south in a hurry," Nast said.

He described personal health issues as well as the untimely death of two of his dogs.

Pavley issued the following statement:

"It is encouraging to see citizens engaged in state government, particurlary on such an important issue. I share the goal of protecting public health and safety and the environment, and as a legislator, I believe my best chance of achieving this goal is through comprehensive regulations. Oil companies are already fracking and acidizing wells in California, and unless we put strict rules in place, they will continue to do so without proper oversight and accountability."

Following several speeches, which took place on the corner of Parkway Calabasas and Ventura Boulevard, the participants walked over to Pavley's office building and went up to her offices where they formally presented Kara Seward, Pavley's district director, with the signatures on a CD. 

"This is not about Fran Pavley; she's great," Steiner told Patch. "This is about asking for what we want."

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