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California state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson said Illinois was able to negotiate many of the same protections she wants in her state, where energy companies are eying a shale formation near Santa Barbara that may have four times more oil than North Dakota. She said regulations proposed by the governor’s office were inadequate.
"It would be wonderful, frankly, if we could get everybody to sit down," said Jackson, who introduced a bill to regulate fracking wastewater. "In California, there is the perception the companies are stonewalling and do not want to be subject to any oversight. I think if they are willing to sit down and talk, that would certainly be best way to do it."
Environmentalists and industry have worked together to control pollution in the past, including on individual fracking issues in some states, though none was as comprehensive as the Illinois bill. But many environmental groups would rather forbid fracking completely.
"You can’t regulate fracking to be cleaner," said Dan Jacobson, legislative director of Environment California. "We’re at such a tipping point with climate now."
Even in Illinois, some environmental groups don’t support the bill and are mobilizing to seek an outright ban. On Saturday, fracking opponents interrupted Bradley while he spoke at a conference in southern Illinois. They plan another protest Monday, at a conference of county officials.
Bringing both sides together "is something that should absolutely happen," said Steve Everly, spokesman for Energy in Depth, the educational arm of the Independent Petroleum Association of America. But he said environmental groups that participate "have to continue to support" the regulations afterward.
"If you put together the right formula, you can move forward," he said.
It is possible that there will be more collaboration to establish better safeguards for air, water and climate, said Mike Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. "But as we learn more about the true impacts of gas, and more and more communities are questioning whether we need it at all ... we’ll definitely see more conflicts."
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