A group of 27 former campaign and administration advisors to Gov. Jerry Brown released a letter Thursday asking him to ban the unconventional oil extraction method known as fracking until more is known about its effects on global warming, air and water pollution.
Their concern is over the 1,750-square mile Monterey shale formation that holds oil in rocks underneath Central and Southern California. It's estimated to hold two-thirds of the recoverable shale oil in the continental U.S., more than 15 billion barrels worth. But this kind of oil is difficult to extract because it's locked in those pockets of rock.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, gets at the oil by injecting water and sometimes chemicals to break open the rocks and get the oil flowing up into wells.
The top signer was Brown's former economic advisor Michael Kieschnick, CEO of Credo, a wireless phone company that funds progressive non-profits. Wendy Wendlandt, who staffed Brown's 1992 presidential campaign, and advisors from his earlier runs for president and U.S. Senate also signed the letter.
"We’re asking you to back up your statement that we should 'give science a chance' before allowing fracking in California by declaring a moratorium on fracking in our state," they wrote.
California Congresswoman Lois Capps has also asked for a moratorium on offshore fracking until there's more study, the Associated Press reports.
In a letter to the Interior Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week, Capps, D-Calif., said she wants the federal government to conduct a study of fracking's impacts to the marine environment, according to AP, saying there was "inadequate oversight."
In September, Brown signed a bill that would require more disclosure on fracking operations in California and to study its environmental effects, but would permit the procedure. Proposed regulations for fracking operations came out this month.
Now, the governor's former advisors want him to go a step further, and put a statewide moratorium on the practice.
In response to the letter, Gov. Brown's office sent a transcript of comments Brown made Oct. 28 to a reporter asking about a moratorium. Brown said there was no proposal for fracking to occur in the Monterey shale formation until environmental studies had been done under California's environmental quality act, CEQA.
"I know there are a lot of people who are critics of CEQA, but we are going to get the best of CEQA in our fracking environmental analysis," Brown said.
Earlier this month, a group of climate scientists also wrote Brown asking for a moratorium on fracking. Several local governments, including the Los Angeles City Council, have also been examining whether to pass laws banning fracking in their jurisdictions.