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California weighs fracking ban due to environmental concerns

The California state legislature has proposed a ban on fracking until the state can fully study the health and environmental effects of the controversial drilling practice. The new bill was approved this week by the California Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee and will now head to the full Legislature for a vote, where it is expected to pass.

Hydraulic fracturing—or “fracking”—is a drilling technique that uses large amounts of water, sand, and chemical fluids that are pumped below the earth’s surface in order to extract oil or natural gas from shale or other rock formations. Environmental groups have criticized fracking because of concerns that it could cause groundwater pollution, putting the health of nearby residents at risk. Fracking has also been linked to an increased risk of silicosis and lung cancer among workers who are employed in the drilling process.

The new California fracking moratorium would require the California Natural Resources Agency and the California Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a study to determine if fracking can be done without risk before it would be allowed in the state. If the new bill is passed by the California Legislature, the state would become the third to issue a moratorium on fracking due to health concerns, following the lead of New Jersey and New York.